France - Angola

Appeal trial begins in Angolagate arms-for-oil scandal

AFP / Martin Bureau

Prominent political and business figures are standing trial in a Paris court today as part of the Angolagate arms-for-oil trial. Some 20 people are appealing against guilty verdicts for having organised or facilitated the sale of arms worth over 580,000 euros to Angola in the 1990s.

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Franco-Angolan businessman, Pierre Falcone, and former French interior minister,  Charles Pasqua were among those present.

One of the main suspects, the Russian-born Israeli tycoon Arkadi Gaydamak, was absent, having also failed to turn up to the trial in 2009.

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Both Gaydamak and Falcone previously received six-year prison sentences without possibility of parole.  Falcone was immediately taken into custody by police at the courtroom, while Gaydamak was convicted in absentia.

The former judge Jean-Charles Marchiani, who was previously a chief advisor to Pasqua, is also appealing.

The son of the former French President François Mitterrand, Jean-Christophe, decided not to appeal his  two-year suspended sentence with a 100,000-euro fine, but he was present during proceedings.

Among those expected to be called as witnesses are French political heavyweights such as former president Jacques Chirac, his former prime minister Dominique de Villepin and the current Defence Minister Alain Juppé

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