Investigators visit Sarkozy's lawyer

11th May 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, May 11, 2007 (AFP) - French judges investigating a scandal over false claims that politicians held secret bank accounts turned up Friday at the offices of President-elect Nicolas Sarkozy's lawyer and of the satirical weekly Canard Enchaine.

PARIS, May 11, 2007 (AFP) - French judges investigating a scandal over false claims that politicians held secret bank accounts turned up Friday at the offices of President-elect Nicolas Sarkozy's lawyer and of the satirical weekly Canard Enchaine.

Lawyer Thierry Herzog, who defended Sarkozy in the so-called Clearstream scandal, told AFP that a judge examined his fax machine and determined that documents leaked to the weekly were not sent from his office.

"They are trying to destabilise Mr Sarkozy by insinuating that his lawyer could have sent facsimiles of documents," said Herzog.

The judges are looking into bogus allegations which surfaced in 2004 that several leading French politicians, including Sarkozy, laundered bribes at Luxembourg clearing bank Clearstream.

Journalists at Le Canard Enchaine said investigators were looking for information on a document published by the weekly last year and which alleged that President Jacques Chirac held Japanese bank accounts.

But the investigators left without conducting a search after editorial staff were uncooperative.

"They want to know who informed the press about Clearstream," said Claude Angeli, the chief editor of the weekly.

"This is a totally illegal search under the European convention of human rights which prohibits searches in news enterprises," said journalist Louis-Marie Horeau.

Several other journalists from Le Canard Enchaine as well as from the newspapers Liberation, Le Monde, Le Parisien and the weekly Le Nouvel Observateur were questioned in December in the probe.

The judges are trying to establish the origin of leaks to the press of sworn testimony of a senior intelligence official, general Philippe Rondot, in April 2006.

Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin was questioned in December for allegedly ordering in early 2004 a secret enquiry into claims that Sarkozy, then his rival for the presidential nomination, was on a list of names of Clearstream account-holders.

The list turned out to be fake.

A computer expert, Imad Lahoud, was placed under investigation in June for "spreading false accusations" and forgery. Two other men -- a journalist and a former employee of the Arthur Andersen accountancy firm -- are also facing charges.


Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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