Former French Interior Minister Charles Pasqua, convicted last month for his role in an arms scandal in the 1990s, accused former President Jacques Chirac of letting illegal weapons sales to Angola go ahead.
Pasqua was given a three year sentence, including one year in jail with the rest suspended, and fined €100 000 for taking cash and for his role in arranging the sale of weapons in defiance of a UN arms embargo during the Angolan civil war.
Saying he had been the victim of a “media lynching”, the 82-year-old Pasqua, a former member of the wartime Resistance and a longtime member of Chirac’s old guard, went on to the attack yesterday, turning on his former allies in the centre-right.
“I declare that the highest authorities of the country were informed,” he told a news conference in Paris, naming Chirac, former Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin and a number of senior French officials. “This is an affair of state,” he said.
The scandal is the latest in a series to have engulfed Chirac and the old centre-right establishment since President Nicolas Sarkozy came to power in 2007.
Chirac himself has been ordered to stand trial in a separate embezzlement case and Villepin is awaiting judgment after the so-called “Clearstream trial” over charges that he tried to smear Sarkozy when they were rival ministers to prevent him winning the presidency.
The “Angolagate” trial centred on $790 million in arms sales to Angolan President Eduardo dos Santos’s MPLA between 1993 and 1998, when it was fighting UNITA rebels led by Jonas Savimbi.
The 27-year war ended with Savimbi’s battlefield death in 2002.
Pasqua, who is facing charges in several unrelated corruption cases, rejected the Angolagate ruling, calling it “a judgment which I find scandalous and which I don’t accept”.
He has appealed the verdict, meaning that for the time being at least, it is suspended.
Pic: President Eduardo dos Santos of Angola