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Angolagate trial begins

Article published on the 2008-10-06 Latest update 2009-08-04 14:08 TU

Judge Philippe Courroye(Photo: AFP)

Judge Philippe Courroye
(Photo: AFP)

Forty-two people, including the son of late French President François Mitterand, go on trial in Paris accused of selling arms to Angola. Dozens of businessmen and politicians are implicated. The accused are said to have trafficked some 590-million-euros-worth or arms to Angola between 1993 and 1998, at the height of a bloody civil war in the country.

The French press have dubbed the affair "Angolagate".  The scandal involved many highly placed French politicians, a number of whom were senior officials during François Mitterrand's presidency from 1981 to 1995.

French businessman Pierre Falcone, who worked for weapons firm Brenco International, and the Russian-Israeli billionaire Arcady Gaydamak, are accused of acting as middlemen for illegal arms deliveries from eastern Europe. They face ten years in prison.

Jean-Christophe Mitterrand, son of late President François Mitterrand, is accused of complicity in illegal trade and embezzlement, and of taking bribes of almost two million dollars (1.5 billion euros). He risks a five-year jail sentence.

Mitterrand was an adviser on African affairs at the Elysée presidential palace from 1986 to 1992 and is said to have been the point of contact between the Angolan regime and Pierre Falcone.


French former Interior Minister Charles Pasqua, 81, and his right-hand man Jean-Charles Marchiani, 65, also risk ten years for influence-peddling in favour of the Angolan authorities. Pasqua was interior minister from 1986 to 1988 and from 1993 to 1995.


Novelist Paul-Loup Sulitzer and Mitterrand's one-time advisor Jacques Attali also stand accused of selling their political and media contacts to Angolan officials, and risk five years in jail.


During the bloody civil war which killed half a million people, the Angolan government of Eduardo Dos Santos sought to buy arms from France to fight Unita rebel forces. When the French state refused, Dos Santos turned to Falcone and Gaydamak.


Over the next five years, 420 tanks, 150,000 shells, 170,000

landmines, 12 helicopters and six warships were trafficked into



Prosecutors also allege that 30 officials including Dos Santos received tens of millions of dollars in kickbacks.