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France ex-PM indicted in defamation case

[JURIST] Former French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin [official profile, in French; JURIST news archive] has been ordered to stand trial for "complicity in slanderous denunciation" in connection with the a long-running political scandal know as the Clearstream Affair [BBC backgrounder]. De Villepin is accused [AFP report] of having orchestrated the release of a fabricated list of government officials and business people who profited from illegal arms sales, including current French President Nicolas Sarkozy [offical profile, in French]. The allegations, which de Villepin has previously denied [JURIST report], surfaced during de Villepin's unsuccessful bid for the 2007 presidential nomination by the Union for a Popular Movement [party website, in French], which eventually went to his rival Sarkozy.

In 2006, French authorities searched de Villepin's home and questioned [JURIST reports] him for 17 hours in connection with the scandal. De Villepin's political image was tainted by the allegations as well as by his advance of an unpopular youth labor law [JURIST archive] during his time as prime minister.

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