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Tuesday, 19 November, 2002, 18:11 GMT
French ex-minister spared jail term
Roland Dumas
Dumas had been sentenced to six months' jail
Former French Foreign Minister Roland Dumas has escaped the threat of a prison sentence over his conviction for corruption.

Mr Dumas was originally handed a six-month jail term for his part in a web of corruption at then state-owned oil giant Elf-Aquitaine.

But at his appeal hearing in Paris, Mr Dumas heard a French prosecutor declare that only a suspended sentence was now being demanded.

Christine Deviers-Joncour (r) in court
Dumas' ex-mistress has toned down parts of evidence
Marc Guirimand said the prosecution was reducing its demand because Mr Dumas' former mistress had toned down parts of her testimony against him.

Mr Dumas' trial heard that the mistress, Christine Deviers-Joncour, showered him with luxury gifts, paid for by Elf to win his influence.

She testified that he knew the source of the gifts, but has now backtracked.

She now says that a luxury Paris flat paid for by Elf was not a second home to Mr Dumas, but that he merely popped in from time to time.

And she said she had forgotten details of other key incidents.

Mr Dumas has insisted that he did not know Ms Deviers-Joncour's role as an Elf lobbyist during their affair.

"In 1989, there was the fall of the Berlin Wall, German reunification, the French presidency of the European community. I was on the go permanently for six months and my top concern was not Madame Deviers' contract with Elf," he told the appeal.

Mr Guirimand insisted that Mr Dumas had known the source of the lavish lifestyle.

"His intimacy with Madame Deviers-Joncour should not have left him in any doubt about the origin of the considerable funds she had at her disposal," he told the court.

The sentences demanded by prosecutors against other defendants are also being sharply reduced:

  • Ms Deviers-Joncour - six months instead of 18 months
  • Elf executive Alfred Sirven - 22 months instead of four years.
  • Elf chairman Loik Le Floch-Prigent - 30 months suspended instead of three-and-a-half years
The appeal hearing is due to end on Monday. The verdict will follow at a later date.

See also:

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