Villepin will not shirk charges over smear campaign

28th August 2007, Comments 0 comments

Former PM Villepin will not shirk charges over smear campaign

PARIS, Aug 28, 2007 (AFP) - France's former prime minister Dominique de Villepin, who faces possible criminal charges over a smear campaign, said Monday he would not try to shirk the charges by claiming ministerial privilege.

Villepin was placed under investigation in July by two judges investigating the so-called Clearstream affair, an attempt to smear Nicolas Sarkozy in the years before he became French president.

Some media reports had speculated that he might ask for the matter to be considered by France's Court of Justice of the Republic (CJR) to avoid facing the investigating magistrates assigned to the Clearstream affair.

The CJR is a special court created to rule on any offences that might have been committed by ministers in the exercise of their functions.

But speaking to French television Monday, Villepin said he would not choose that option. He expressed his sense of hurt and outrage about the way he had been placed under suspicion.

"I acted as foreign minister and as interior minister," said Villepin, referring to the two position he occupied at the time the Clearstream scandal broke.

In 2004, faked documents had falsely linked Sarkozy, among others, to illegal accounts at the Luxembourg-based Clearstream bank.

"I asked for checks, at no time did I ask for something else," Villepin insisted.

"And that is why I will not go to the Court of Justice of the Republic, even if I acted within the framework of my duties, because I believe that I am like any citizen, like an ordinary citizen and so I will answer all questions that are put to me, as I did last December."

Villepin still faces the possibility of being charged with "complicity to make false accusations", "receiving stolen goods, breach of trust and complicity to use forged documents" at the outcome of the probe.

The former prime minister is be questioned again on September 13.

AFP

Subject: French news

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