Villepin blames Sarkozy for Clearstream appeal

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Villepin blames Sarkozy for Clearstream appeal

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Former French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin has reacted angrily to news that prosecutors will appeal after he was cleared of defaming President Sarkozy. Judges said there was no evidence against Villepin in the so-called Clearstream affair.

Villepin said: “The president prefers to keep up his dogged determination, his hatred, instead of assuming the responsibility of his position … which means defending the country’s institutions.”

Villepin says he knows the public prosecutor well, and he is convinced it was not his decision to launch an appeal. The president’s ruling UMP party says it welcomes a retrial, but says it is now out of Sarkozy’s hands.

UMP spokesman Frederic Lefebvre said: “He’s no longer a civil plaintiff, which means he has no lawyer, no counsel. It’s no longer his affair.”

Villepin denies claims he was part of a plot to use fake documents to link Sarkozy to a corruption probe.

The president launched legal action, complaining he had been the victim of a smear campaign as he began to set his sights on the presidency.