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Tags: France | prime | minister | smear

Ex-French PM Acquitted of Smear Charge

Thursday, 28 January 2010 09:43 AM EST

PARIS — In a setback for President Nicolas Sarkozy, a court here on Thursday acquitted the former prime minister, Dominique de Villepin, of charges that he was part of a conspiracy to smear Mr. Sarkozy and sabotage his election in 2007.

The case had raised issues of class, culture and power, and Mr. Sarkozy, the son of immigrants, made no secret of his hostility toward the aristocratic Mr. de Villepin. The two politicians served together in the government of former President Jacques Chirac and both maneuvered to succeed him.

The charges against the former prime minister turned on allegations that Mr. de Villepin used forged documents in an attempt to tarnish Mr. Sarkozy by linking him and many others among the French elite to files purporting to show secret accounts supposedly tied to kickbacks from arms sales.

Mr. de Villepin had always denied the charges. Three of his co-defendants were convicted

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Thursday, 28 January 2010 09:43 AM
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