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Monday, 4 November, 2002, 14:17 GMT
French ex-minister fights jail term
Roland Dumas
Dumas: Sex and corruption scandal gripped France
Disgraced former French Foreign Minister Roland Dumas has begun a court appeal against a jail sentence and fine for corruption.

The 80-year-old was convicted in May 2001 of receiving slush funds from the former state-owned oil company, Elf Aquitaine, during his tenure as foreign minister from 1989 to 1992.


[Dumas] has had enough of this business. He's glad the case is being heard, so he can put it all behind him

Jean-Rene Farthouat
Dumas' lawyer
He has remained free pending his appeal.

The court found that the firm had funded Mr Dumas' then-lover, Christine Deviers-Joncour, to win his influence by buying him extravagant gifts.

Four other defendants convicted of related charges are also due to appeal against their sentences in the hearing, which is expected to last until 25 November.

Downfall

A lawyer by training, Mr Dumas was promoted in 1995 to head France's Constitutional Court. He was forced to resign in 2000 ahead of the sleaze trial.

Christine Deviers-Joncour (r) in court
Dumas' ex-mistress wrote a book revealing secrets
A former member of the French resistance and ally of former President Francois Mitterrand, he was known for his sexual affairs and lavish tastes.

But in March 1999, Ms Deviers-Joncour claimed he had secured a job for her at Elf.

Ms Deviers-Joncour, who published a confessional book entitled The Whore of the Republic, said she had received more than FFr60m ($8.56m).

Also appealing
Christine Deviers-Joncour - given 18 months jail plus 18 months suspended
Loik Le Floch-Prigent - ex-Elf president, jailed for three-and-a-half years
Alfred Sirven - ex-deputy of Le Floch-Prigent, jailed for four years after extradition from Philippines
Gilbert Miara - businessman, jailed for 18 months
She said the money was used to buy a luxury flat in Paris and to shower her lover with expensive gifts, including antique Greek statuettes worth $40,000 and a pair of handmade shoes worth $1,500.

Mr Dumas claimed he knew nothing of his mistress's connections to Elf and that he had been made a scapegoat.

But the court found against him, and he was sentenced to six months in jail along with a two-year suspended sentence and a fine of $135,000.

At the time he expressed his dread of ending his career in ignominy.

Web of corruption

"To run the risk of dishonour is an especially great risk at my age," he said.

An eight-year inquiry into the Elf Aquitaine scandal that ended last February revealed the extent of the scandal.

It named more than 40 suspects and described a web of corruption that stretched to Spain, Germany and South Africa.

Elf Aquitaine is now part of the privatised firm TotalFinaElf.

See also:

18 Jun 01 | Europe
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