France’s Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin will appear as a witness in the Clearstream affair. He was authorised by his cabinet today to go before the judge investigating the smear scandal. It has sucked in the government’s top three figures, all potential Presidential candidates next year.
Interior Minister Nicholas Sarkozy and Defence Minister Michelle Alliot Marie were accused of holding secret bank accounts in Clearstream, a finance house in tax haven Luxembourg. Except the lists incriminating them later proved to be forgeries. Who is to blame, and above all, gain?
Villepin ordered an investigation led by secret service General Phillipe Rondot, but he has contradicted himself since the affair came to light. He too has been interviewed by a judge, but now refuses to speak or co-operate with the inquiry. Muddying the waters he led the Villepin investigation while being under his Defence Minister’s orders. Villepin warned neither her nor Sarkozy they were being looked into.
Villepin is now complaining he is the victim of all this as people will think he has the most to gain in smearing his presidential rivals. Except that in the machaivellian world of French politics, it is hard to get at the truth. Do not hold your breath. French justice moves at a snail’s pace.