The former French prime minister Dominique de Villepin has rejected accusations of guilt in a corruption scandal involving President Nicholas Sarkozy, and said he’ll prove his innocence.
De Villepin is alleged to have smeared Sarkozy during the 2007 election campaign. Arriving at court, De Villepin said: ‘‘I’m happy today to be able to bring truth to this affair where lies and manipulation have obscured it.’‘ The Clearstream scandal involves a Luxembourg bank. A list of names, later proved to be forged, alleged that Sarkozy and others had taken bribes from international arms sales. Last week, Sarkozy was accused of interfering in the trial after he spoke out on television. ‘‘After two years of investigation, two independent judges felt that the perpetrators should be brought before a criminal court,’‘ he said. Both men served under former President Jacques Chirac and were fierce rivals to replace him in the Elysee Palace. De Villepin faces up to five years in jail if found guilty, and has accused Sarkozy of being fixated with the case.