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Updates: Paris, Brussels, London, Moscow

  • July 20th, 2007
  • Posted by EUEditor

chirac-page.jpgJudges question the former French President, and the rift over the murder of Litvinenko gets deeper.

AFTER FRENCH ELECTIONS, CHIRAC NOW FACES AN INQUIRY

The former French President Jacques Chirac has been questioned in Paris (19.7.07) by judges investigating a political scandal dating back to his time as Mayor of the city for 18 years up to 1995 …

WHAT DID HE KNOW?

The judges are asking what he knew of city funds being used to pay political functionaries working for his own conservative political party, the RPR.

While Head of State, until last month, Mr Chirac was able to claim presidential immunity from such interrogation as an “assisted witness”.

In an article published by Le Monde (19.7.07) he says the malpractice of the time, for which a senior political ally received punishment including a suspended prison term, ought to be seen in its “historical context”, when such activity was more tolerated.

He has been quoted rejecting any investigation of later acts of corruption imputed against him, during his two terms as President, saying the legal protection of that office will continue to cover anything that took place during the presidency.

MORE UK – MOSCOW MOVES

The Russian government has expelled four British diplomats (19.7.07) and will block visas for public officials wanting to travel between the two countries, reciprocating moves by the United Kingdom in their current diplomatic confrontation.

It has also suspended cooperatioin with the UK in the “war on terror”.

The dispute is over the Russian authorities’ refusal to deport a former security officer wanted for the murder of one of their prominent opponents, Alexander Litvinenko, in London late last year.

The European Union has criticised Moscow, its Council Presidency (18.7.07) calling the murder a “grave and reckless crime” and expressing “disappointment at Russia’s failure to cooperate constructively with the United Kingdom authorities.”

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