France Opens Probe Against Former PM

De Villepin will be grilled over Sarkozy smear campaign
By Heather McPherson,  Newser User
Posted Jul 27, 2007 4:47 PM CDT
French President Nicolas Sarkozy smiles as he delivers his speech during the opening of the new tramway, in Marseille, southern France, Tuesday, July 3, 2007. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Dominique de Villepin, France's former PM and a longtime rival of president Nicolas Sarkozy, will undergo a formal investigation for his alleged role in improperly smearing Sarkozy. De Villepin denies involvement in the scandal which may also implicate former president Jacques Chirac, but the announcement is seen as a step towards criminal charges.

New evidence suggests de Villepin encouraged leaking Sarkozy's name onto what is now known to be a false list of people who accepted bribes related to the sale of French arms to Taiwan.Charges against de Villepin could include breach of trust, forgery, and perjury.