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Monday, 17 December, 2001, 21:25 GMT
Dumas goes to court again
Roland Dumas
French law allows convicted lawyers to practise during appeal
By James Coomarasamy in Paris

The former French Foreign Minister, Roland Dumas, has appeared in court again, more than six months after being sentenced to jail for his part in a corruption scandal.

Roland Dumas' ex-lover Christine Deviers-Joncour
Dumas's ex-lover was also convicted

But the 79-year-old, who is appealing against his conviction, was back in the role he is more accustomed to - defending a suspected armed robber in the city of Orleans.

Visibly aged, he arrived at the courthouse in Orleans in his black lawyer's robes, pleading not his own innocence, but that of a young man from Yugoslavia, accused of robbing a bank.

Although Mr Dumas was sentenced in May to six months in prison, he is appealing against his conviction.

Cynicism

Under French law he remains at liberty to practise his profession.

His conviction earlier this year, together with his ex-lover and a number of former senior officials at the Elf oil company, came at the end of one of the highest profile corruption cases in recent French history.

The sentencing of a close confidant of former President Francois Mitterrand was seen by many as a sign that France was becoming tougher in its dealings with official corruption.

However, since his trial ended the mood has changed, partly because a number of corruption investigations, including those involving the French President, Jacques Chirac, have collapsed.

And the sight of Mr Dumas arriving in court as a lawyer will confirm the widespread cynicism in France about the extent to which things have really changed.

See also:

24 Jan 01 | Europe
Dumas 'heartbroken' over trial
22 Jan 01 | Europe
A potential political earthquake
12 Mar 01 | Europe
Profile: France's sleaze-buster
06 Feb 01 | Europe
Elf king who fell from power
01 Mar 00 | Europe
Dumas resigns in corruption probe
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