French ex-PM on trial

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Paris

Former French prime minister Edouard Balladur goes on trial Tuesday on charges that he used kickbacks from arms deals in the 1990s to fund a presidential bid, a case known as the “Karachi affair.” Balladur, 91, joins a long list of senior French politicians pursued for alleged financial wrongdoing, including former president Nicolas Sarkozy and his predecessor, Jacques Chirac. The conservative ex-premier will be tried by the Court of Justice of the Republic in Paris, a tribunal dedicated to hearing cases of ministerial misconduct. Also in the dock will be his former defence minister Francois Leotard, 78, though his presence at the trial’s opening is uncertain because of illness. Balladur will appear in court Tuesday “to face his judges and answer their questions,” his lawyer Felix de Belloy said. — AFP

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