Former French prime minister Dominique de Villepin has been cleared of trying to smear the name of his political rival president Nicolas Sarkozy.
The verdict ends a five year investigation and relaunches de Villepin’s hopes of running against Sarkozy for the presidency in two years time.
For Sarkozy, failure to bury the political career of his opponent is a very unwelcome 55th birthday present.
The case centres on a list of people with accounts in Luxembourg’s Clearstream bank that were allegedly used to hide money gained from bribes. Sarkozy’s name was on the list, which was later proven to be falsified.
Sarkozy accused de Villepin of knowing that the list was a fake but doing nothing to prevent the scandal gathering momentum. At the time the two rivals both had ambitions to succeed then-president Jacques Chirac.
The court announced that there was no evidence de Villepin had acted in bad faith.
Ex-French PM cleared in Clearstream case