Angola spurs Corruption at the highest levels of French politics

Former French Interior Minister Charles Pasqua, sentenced to a year in prison for his role in an Angolan arms-trafficking scandal, appears determined to take leading French politicians of the 1990s down with him

Charles PasquaIt is a growing scandal in France, but whether what is being referred to as “Angolagate” will send more politicians to prison depends on the whether judges are given access to the documentary evidence.

Pasqua, already convicted and sentenced, is keen on making sure all the information about the arms deals of the 1990s is brought out in the open. “I’m calling for the Angola affair to be de-classified,” Paqua said. “Angola first, we can worry about the others later.

Why? Because if these documents are declassified we’ll have the proof that what I’m saying is true.” It that were the case, it would prove that a number of people in the French government were aware of then ilegal arms deals. 

The French government said on Thursday that it would declassify the documents – if a judge made an official request and if the defense secret commission agreed.

The affair could fill up the prisons

For many years, Pasqua was then-President Jacques Chirac’s right-hand-man. The law-and-order hardliner in charge of the police was a straight-talker with a heavy Marseilles accent in a world of diplomatic and polished Parisians. There were rumours that Pasqua had used his contacts in Africa to fill the war chest of the RPR, the party Chirac founded to make himself president.

At the beginning of the 1990s, two France-based arms dealers sold 800 million euros ($1.2 million) worth of arms to Angola – illegally, as French law forbids selling arms to countries in civil war. In order to get the authorities to look the other way, these arms dealers were suspected of paying one and a half million euros to a France-Africa association whose vice-president was Pasqua himself. 

An unprecedented decision 

French politicians found guilty of corruption have generally been handed suspended sentences. The Paris court’s decision to have Pasqua locked up for a year was not only bad news for the former interior minister, but also for all of those who had hoped that he would keep quiet

On Wednesday Pasqua, 82, said that, at the beginning of the operation, then-President Francois Mitterrand knew about it and that later on, so did his successor, Jacques Chirac.

Jacques Chirac was perfectly in touch with this affair,“ Pasqua said.  “So were the prime ministers, Edouard Balladur and Alain Juppe. And, in fact, this was stated very clearly during the trial.” But Balladur had already issued a denial, telling French television that no information relating to the arms deals had crossed his desk – at least not as far as he could remember.

According to Pasqua, that is not true. During the course of the trial, evidence was presented proving that a memo about the affair was passed on to Balladur by his closest adviser. John Laurenson in Paris/db.,,4838982,00.html