PARIS - A French court yesterday acquitted former prime minister Dominique de Villepin of charges of plotting to smear Nicolas Sarkozy to sabotage his presidential bid.
The court ruled that there were no grounds to convict the 56-year-old politician of complicity to slander Sarkozy in 2004, when the two men were angling to succeed Jacques Chirac.
The case centred on a list - later proved to have been fabricated - of account holders at the Clearstream financial clearing house who allegedly took bribes from the sale of French warships to Taiwan.
Sarkozy's name was on the list and the French leader alleges the scandal was fabricated to tarnish his image. Villepin was cleared on all counts. - Sapa-AFP