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Former France PM investigated in Sarkozy smear probe

[JURIST] Investigators searched the offices of former French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin [official profile, in French; JURIST news archive] on Friday as part of a probe into an alleged smear campaign conducted against Villepin political rival and now French President Nicolas Sarkozy [official profile; BBC profile]. In 2004, a magistrate received anonymous letters accusing Sarkozy of holding secret bank accounts linked to the corrupt sale of frigates, but the accusations turned out to be false. It has been alleged that Villepin may have been behind the letters and had known that Sarkozy did not own the accounts the letters claimed.

Judges searched Villepin's home on Thursday. In December 2006, Villepin was questioned [JURIST report] by judges for more than 17 hours in connection with an investigation into the smear. Villepin has denied any wrongdoing. Reuters has more.

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