Former French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin is planning a political comeback after being cleared of plotting to discredit President Nicolas Sarkozy.
De Villepin was found not guilty on all four counts of complicity to slander, to use forgeries, dealing in stolen property and breach of trust. It is thought he will now challenge Sarkozy in the next general election in 2012.
After the verdict De Villepin said: “I could, today, turn against those who accused me, command reparation, demand explanations. But I don’t want to forget what is essential for me. What is important is to serve France. I want to offer an alternative to policies that, for me, do not give results. Trusting in my ideas, I want to fight with urgency.”
De Villepin had been accused of failing to intervene in the Clearstream corruption inquiry despite knowing that claims against Sarkozy were false.
In 2004 Sarkozy’s name appeared on a forged list wrongly linking him to an illegal bank account into which bribes were alleged to have been paid in exchange for international arms sales.
De Villepin admitted knowledge of the document but the court found no evidence that he knew it was a fake.