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France - Pakistan

Ex-PM Villepin affirms Karachi kickbacks

AFP/Jacques Demarthon

Former French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin testified on Thursday that he believes that commissions linked to a 1994 arms contract between France and Pakistan financed political parties linked to then Prime Minister Edouard Balladur.

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But he said there was no link between the alleged kickbacks and a 2002 bomb in Karachi that killed 11 French people. The bomb has been called an act of revenge for the cancelling of the arms contracts.

Villepin did not give names of the beneficiaries of the bribes, but said that he had "very strong convictions" that they had financed Balladur's presidential campaign in 1995.

Villepin was the president's secretary-general in 1995 when Jacques Chirac ordered the cancellation of a submarine deal on being elected president.

On Friday, families of the engineers killed in the Karachi bomb announced plans to sue former president Chirac for manslaughter.

Their civil suit for manslaughter and endangering life also targets former prime minister Villepin and former executives involved in arms deals linked to the case.

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