Prosecutor says he will appeal Villepin not-guilty verdict
The public prosecutor of Paris said Friday that he will appeal the decision by a court to clear former French prime minister Dominique de Villepin of all charges in a scheme to smear President Nicolas Sarkozy.
"I declared Dominique de Villepin guilty in court. No one would understand if I did not file an appeal," Jean-Claude Marin told Europe 1 radio.
On Thursday, a Paris court ruled that there was no proof that Villepin had played any role in disseminating a forged list containing the names of scores of individual, including that of Sarkozy, who allegedly had received kickbacks from the 1991 sale of French frigates to Taiwan.
Marin said he had been "surprised" by the verdict, which "seems the opposite of what had been said during the trial."
A retrial could take place by the end of the year or the beginning of 2011, he said.
Villepin reacted immediately, telling RMC radio that Sarkozy was behind the decision to put him on trial again.
"Nicholas Sarkozy prefers to persist in his bitterness, in his hatred," said the former prime minister. "It is a sad spectacle. It is not a good day for politics."
Villepin and Sarkozy have waged a fierce political rivalry since they were ministers in the government of president Jacques Chirac.
On Thursday, just hours after he was cleared, Villepin depicted himself as a conservative alternative to Sarkozy, whose policies, he said, "are not bringing results."
Asked about a possible challenge to Sarkozy for the 2012 presidential election, Villepin said, "My preoccupation is not 2012, it is 2010, it is today." He added that "other responses are possible" within the centre-right coalition governing the country.