Sarkozy urged to testify in Pakistan arms scandal

Families of French engineers killed in a 2002 bombing attack in Pakistan pressed for Prez to testify over alleged corruption linked to the deaths.

Updated: Nov 18, 2010, 18:06 PM IST

Paris: Families of French engineers
killed in a 2002 bombing attack in Pakistan pressed today for
President Nicolas Sarkozy to testify over alleged corruption
linked to the deaths.

A lawyer for the families said they had lodged a
demand with investigating magistrate Renaud Van Ruymbeke that
he question Sarkozy, former president Jacques Chirac and
former prime minister Dominique de Villepin in the case.

Van Ruymbeke is investigating parts of a complex case
that has spawned allegations of illegal political funding
implicating former prime minister Edouard Balladur, for whom
Sarkozy served as campaign spokesman in 1995.

"The civil parties insist that Nicolas Sarkozy can be
heard, even if he is covered by presidential immunity," the
lawyer, Olivier Morice, told reporters.

"Nicolas Sarkozy must remove all ambiguity," he added.
The families suspect that the bombing in Karachi in
2002, which killed 11 French engineers and three others, was
prompted by the cancellation of commission payments on sales
of French submarines with Pakistan.

On Wednesday, French former defence minister Charles
Millon confirmed the existence of kickbacks on the arms deals
in testimony to Van Ruymbeke, an official said.

French investigative news website Mediapart in June
quoted Luxembourg police as saying that a company set up with
Sarkozy`s approval channelled money from arms deal commissions
to fund political activities in France.

Sarkozy and Balladur have repeatedly dismissed the
allegations of illegal party funding.

PTI