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Rogue trader appeals to Hollande before jail deadline

Jerome Kerviel, former trader of French bank Societe Generale, waves to supporters as he arrives on the Italian side of the border with France near the French town of Menton, May 17, 2014.
Jerome Kerviel, former trader of French bank Societe Generale, waves to supporters as he arrives on the Italian side of the border with France near the French town of Menton, May 17, 2014. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier

Convicted rogue trader Jérôme Kerviel, who faces a Sunday deadline to return to France to begin a three-year prison term, has demanded an audience with President François Hollande. He wants the president to grant immunity to potential witnesses who could testify in his favour.

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"French police can come and get me," the rogue trader said from the Italian border town of Ventimiglia, as a deadline for him to visit Menton police department is set to expire by 3:00pm on Sunday.

Kerviel was supposed to cross the border from Italy to France on Saturday, but in a change of heart, the 37-year-old said he would not return until he met with the French president.

He said he wished to present François Hollande with "all the serious failings" that led to his three-year conviction after he brought one of Europe's biggest banks to near collapse.

He's called on the French president to grant immunity to witnesses who could testify on his behalf. On Saturday, he received a vow of support from online newspaper Mediapart, that also flags up the failures of the justice system in his case.

Kerviel was sentenced to a three-year prison sentence after being convicted for breach of trust, forgery and fraudulent data manipulation and has since been fighting the conviction.

He's always maintained that his managers knew the risky trades he was undertaking and that he is a "victim of the enemy," in reference to a 2012 presidential campaign speech in which Hollande spoke of finance as his "true adversary."

Société Générale released a statement however denouncing the media attention Kerviel has attracted – recalling that that he had been convicted and found guilty.

For its part, the French presidency said that if Kerviel wants immunity, he would need to follow the usual procedure, which would be examined like all others.

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