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Ex-French minister gets jail in Angola arms trial

Ex-French minister gets jail in Angola arms trial

A Paris court sentenced a former interior minister to a year in prison on Tuesday and fined the son of the late President Francois Mitterrand for links to arms trafficking to Angola in a case that involved corruption at the highest levels.
The toughest sentences on Tuesday were handed to the two men accused of masterminding the trafficking of Soviet-made weapons to Angola during a civil war in the 1990s: Israeli billionaire Arkady Gaydamak and French businessman Pierre Falcone. Both were sentenced to six years in prison.
In a blow to an influential fixture in French politics, Charles Pasqua, a former interior minister, was sentenced to three years in prison, two of them suspended. He was convicted of influence peddling connected to the arms trafficking and fined ⁈0 ($148,690).
The court gave Jean-Christophe Mitterrand, a one-time African affairs adviser to his father when he was president, a 2-year suspended sentence and fined him ⁈0 ($560,000) for receiving commissions linked to the arms deals.
Jean-Christophe Mitterrand was acquitted of a separate charge of complicity in arms trafficking.
He and a host of political heavyweights on trial were accused of receiving money from Falcone's company in exchange for political and commercial favors. That money included profits from the arms trades, which violated U.N. sanctions against Angola at the time.
Forty-two defendants stood accused in the trial, which began last October after seven years of international investigations into a case the French dubbed "Angolagate."
Falcone was jailed immediately after the verdict. He has enjoyed partial diplomatic immunity as Angola's representative to UNESCO, but the court said Tuesday that immunity does not cover the arms trafficking conviction.
Gaydamak was sentenced in absentia, and it was unclear whether he would ever serve the prison term. He is currently living in Russia, according to aides.
The Kalashnikov rifles, tanks and other weapons came from Russia, via a Slovak company that Falcone and Gaydamak controlled. The indictment said French bank Paribas and other French companies were directly involved in the deals with Angola's government, which paid for the weapons partly with oil.
Angola's 1979-2002 civil war served as a Cold War proxy conflict between the Marxist army of President Dos Santos, backed by Cuban soldiers, and the forces of U.S.- and South Africa-backed rebel leader Jonas Savimbi.


Updated : 2021-08-01 02:32 GMT+08:00