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Prosecutor appealing acquittal of former French PM

 Former Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin speaks after the verdict of the slander trial at the Paris courthouse Thursday Jan. 28, 2010, in Paris.  ...

FRANCE SLANDER TRIAL

Former Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin speaks after the verdict of the slander trial at the Paris courthouse Thursday Jan. 28, 2010, in Paris. ...

The French state prosecutor said Friday his office is appealing the acquittal of former Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin on charges he took part in a smear campaign against President Nicolas Sarkozy, meaning the veteran politician will face trial once again.
Less than 24 hours after the verdict, Jean-Claude Marin said the court's decision to acquit Villepin was "surprising." He had recommended an 18-month suspended sentence and a fine of (EURO)45,000 ($67,000) for Villepin.
"The last word has not been spoken in this affair," Marin told Europe-1 radio, saying an appeal could be heard in late 2010 or early 2011. In France, an appeal of a court ruling by the French prosecutor's office automatically leads to a new trial.
The trial put a spotlight on the bitter rivalry between Villepin, a former diplomat known for his 2003 U.N. speech urging the U.S. not to invade Iraq, and Sarkozy, one of 40 plaintiffs in the complex case.
Villepin quickly lashed out at the prosecutor's decision, angrily declaring that the French president was behind it.
"What this decision shows is that one man, Nicolas Sarkozy, the president, wants to persevere in his determination _ in his hate" rather than defend the justice system, Villepin told BFM television.
Villepin has been mired for six years in the so-called Clearstream case, named for a Luxembourg clearing house where a mysterious list _ since deemed a hoax _ of alleged clients who held secret accounts surfaced. The accounts were purportedly created to hold bribes from a 1991 sale of warships to Taiwan, and other shady income.
Villepin was given the phony list and he asked a retired general to investigate its origins. The indictment said Villepin should have alerted judicial authorities to the scam earlier, and he was tried for complicity in slander and forgery.
Allegations about the alleged smear campaign against Sarkozy and others date back to 2004. At that time, both Sarkozy and Villepin were ministers in former President Jacques Chirac's cabinet, and both were considered strong contenders for the presidency.
After his acquittal Thursday, Villepin quickly suggested he would return to politics, including a possible run for the presidency in 2012.


Updated : 2021-07-24 21:55 GMT+08:00