‘Karachi Affair’: Former French PM’s Trial Over Kickbacks To Begin Today
Former French prime minister Edouard Balladur is facing charges that in the 1990s he used kickbacks from weapons sales to finance a presidential campaign, a case referred to as the ‘Karachi affair’ as it is linked to a 2002 terror attach in Karachi. The trial will begin today (Tuesday).
The kickbacks, after accounting for inflation, are projected to be 13 million francs, now worth some 2.8 million euros ($3.3 million). Balladur is suspected to have used 10 million from the kickbacks to finance his failed presidential campaign against Chirac in 1995.
Along with Balladur, there is a long list of senior French officials, including former President Nicolas Sarkozy and his predecssor, Jacques Chirac who are also accused of the same crime and are currently being investigated for alleged financial misconduct.
The conservative former prime minister will be prosecuted in Paris by the Court of Justice of the Republic.
His former Minister of Defense, Francois Leotard,78, will also be in the dock, although his appearance at the trial is debatable as he’s sick and might not come.
Between 1993 and 1995, when Balladur was prime minister in the final years of Francois Mitterrand’s presidency in 2017 the two men were charged with “complicity in the misuse of corporate assets” over the selling of submarines to Pakistan and frigates to Saudi Arabia.
Balladur is also accused of concealing the crimes but he refuses any wrongdoings and says the large amount of money was generated by selling T-shirt’s and campaign merchandise.
During an inquiry into a 2002 bombing in Karachi, Pakistan, which targeted a bus carrying French engineers, Balladur’s involvement and finance scam came into light. The bombing had killed 15 people and though at first ISIS was held responsible for the bombing, it is now being speculated that it was a revenging move against Chirac who beat Balladur to presidency.