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France prosecutors to appeal acquittal of former PM for Sarkozy defamation

[JURIST] A French public prosecutor on Friday announced plans to appeal the acquittal [JURIST report] of former prime minister Dominique de Villepin [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], which cleared him of all charges for his role in an alleged plot to defame several businessmen, including current President Nicolas Sarkozy [official profile, in French; JURIST news archive]. The appeal comes shortly after Sarkozy announced that he would not appeal [NYT report] the verdict. According to French Media Advisor Franck Louvrier, prosecutors were not given instructions from the president, and Sarkozy will not be a civil party to the appeal [Le Monde report, in French].

In October, de Villepin denied breaking the law and claimed that Sarkozy ordered the prosecution [JURIST report] for personal and political reasons. De Villepin and his alleged co-conspirators went on trial [JURIST report] last September. In November 2008, de Villepin was ordered to stand trial [JURIST report] for his connection with the long-running political scandal known as the Clearstream Affair [BBC backgrounder]. De Villepin's political image was tainted by the allegations as well as by his advance of an unpopular youth labor law [JURIST news archive] during his time as prime minister.

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