Jean-Pierre Raffarin quizzed over Clearstream

19th October 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Oct 19, 2006 (AFP) - French judges probing the so-called Clearstream dirty tricks scandal on Thursday questioned former prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin as a witness, according to sources close to the investigation.

PARIS, Oct 19, 2006 (AFP) - French judges probing the so-called Clearstream dirty tricks scandal on Thursday questioned former prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin as a witness, according to sources close to the investigation.

Raffarin is set to be asked how much he knew about the case — which centres on bogus allegations of corruption levelled at top French politicians and businessmen — before the scandal broke publicly earlier this year.

The former centre-right prime minister, who served under President Jacques Chirac from 2002 to 2005, arrived early at the Paris court, avoiding reporters massed outside the building.

Since the start of the year the defamation inquiry — launched in 2004 following legal action by industrialists targeted by the allegations — has been edging closer to the top levels of power in France.

Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin was drawn in over charges he exploited the affair in a bid to destabilise his rival Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy ahead of next year's presidential race.

Leaked testimony from a French intelligence chief fuelled accusations that  Villepin ordered a secret probe into Sarkozy, one of those falsely accused of running secret offshore bank accounts.

The prime minister, who had to fight off calls to resign over the scandal, has said he hopes to expose his version of events to investigators "as soon as possible". His former cabinet director Pierre Vimont was questioned on Tuesday.

At the time of the events, Villepin was foreign minister, then interior minister in Raffarin's government.

On Wednesday the French government also gave the go-ahead for judges to question Defence Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie over the affair.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

 


 

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