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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 June, 2003, 10:22 GMT 11:22 UK
French court blocks corruption book
Eva Joly
Joly led the Elf investigation in 1994
A French court has blocked the publication of a book by a former investigating magistrate who exposed corruption at the Elf oil company.

The court said that Eva Joly's book, which was due out on Thursday, might prejudice the ongoing trial of former Elf executives.

The book will now be published only after the closing arguments for the defence in the trial, scheduled for 7 July.

Ms Joly has served our country with courage and should be proposed for the Legion of Honour
Arnaud Montebourg
Socialist MP
Correspondents say this is the first time a book by a judge has been blocked by the French courts.

Ms Joly said she would appeal against the decision, denouncing it as "censorship".

"Ms Joly has served our country with courage and should be proposed for the Legion of Honour," said Socialist MP Arnaud Montebourg.

Network of graft

The book - titled Is this the world we want to live in?, argues that France is institutionally corrupt.

Loik le Floch-Prigent
Loik le Floch-Prigent is one of those on trial
Ms Joly, 57, led the investigation against Elf from its inception in 1994, focusing initially on Elf's bail-out of the Bidermann textile group and Bidermann's apparent payment of a secret commission to Elf director Loik le Floch-Prigent's wife.

But the inquiry soon widened as investigators found evidence of a network of graft stretching to Spain, Germany and Africa.

The Norwegian-born magistrate is considered to be at the vanguard of a new generation of lawyers bent on exposing the corrupt practices that were once part and parcel of the French political system.

Correspondents say she has made some powerful enemies during the trial.

Le Floch-Prigent and two other senior officials, Alfred Sirven and Andre Tarallo, could face jail of up to eight years if convicted for a range of financial machinations which enriched African leaders and some of the defendants.

Le Floch-Prigent and Sirven have been serving prison sentences since 2001 for organising a company slush fund.

But former foreign minister Roland Dumas was cleared on appeal in January of receiving Elf-funded gifts from his former mistress.


SEE ALSO:
Profile: France's sleaze-buster
12 Mar 01  |  Europe
Elf king who fell from power
06 Feb 01  |  Europe
A potential political earthquake
13 Mar 03  |  Europe
Profile: Dumas the charmer
30 May 01  |  Europe


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