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Friday, 12 January, 2001, 12:38 GMT
Mitterrand son declares innocence
Jean-Christophe Mitterrand leaving Sante prison
Mr Mitterrand walked free after his mother paid bail
The son of former French President Francois Mitterrand, a day after being released from prison on bail, has admitted that he may have infringed French tax laws.

How can you not see that, when a judge sweats with hatred... that you are being sent to the Bastille

Jean-Christophe Mitterrand
Jean-Christophe Mitterrand is under judicial investigation for complicity in arms trafficking to Angola, but in an interview on French radio on Friday he said his links to arms dealer Pierre Falcone were entirely innocent.

He was arrested on 21 December and released on Thursday, after his mother helped to pay bail of five million francs ($715,000) - which she described as a "ransom".

The investigation focuses on a $1.8m payment to Mr Mitterrand by Mr Falcone's company, Brenco International.

Angola bank loans

Magistrates suspect the money, paid into a Swiss bank account, was a reward for arranging arms sales worth $500m to the government of Eduardos Dos Santos in 1993 and 1994.

Maybe it was a crime, but I don't think so

Jean-Christophe Mitterrand
Mr Mitterrand said it was payment for arranging bank loans to Angola.

He added: "All the money I brought back from Switzerland into France I did declare. It's true I didn't bring it all back, but that's another story...

Danielle Mitterrand, mother of alleged arms trafficker Jean-Christophe
Danielle Mitterrand leaves the court after paying bail
"Maybe it was a crime, but I don't think so."

Swiss authorities froze his bank accounts on 5 January at the request of French judges.

Mr Mitterrand - who was his father's adviser on African affairs from 1986 to 1992 - told the radio station he had never spoken about arms with Mr Falcone.

Attack on judges

After his release, Mr Mitterrand launched a bitter attack on the judges who had imprisoned him for three weeks, in particular the judge leading the inquiry, Philippe Courroye.

Charles Pasqua
Former interior minister Charles Pasqua is also under investigation
"How can you not see that, when a judge sweats with hatred every time he opens his mouth, how can you not see that you are being sent to the Bastille," he told France 2 television.

He added: "I want to be able to defend myself and I have things to tell."

Relatives vowed to go on the offensive against the judges, who they say are waging a political vendetta against the family.

Mr Mitterrand has had his passport confiscated, is banned from leaving the country, and must report once a week to the police.

Investigation widens

In recent days the judges investigating the Angolan arms deal have begun making inquiries in Geneva about possible money-laundering.

As the investigation widens, Mr Courroye has also ordered the seizure of the 1999 European election campaign accounts of the centre-right party Rally For France (RPF).

They have discovered that Mr Falcone paid a large sum of money to a senior aide of former interior minister Charles Pasqua, a leading member of the party.

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