Former French prime minister Édouard Balladur faces probe over Karachi affair

Ex-premier and his former defence minister face investigation over claims that arms sale commissions were used to fund 1995 presidential campaign.

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The former French prime minister Édouard Balladur and his one-time defence minister François Léotard face an investigation by a special French court, the Cour de justice de la République (CJR), over their alleged roles in a gigantic political funding scam which forms part of the so-called Karachi affair.

The claim is that secret cash kickbacks from French weapons sales abroad were channelled back into France to help fund Balladur's ultimately unsuccessful presidential election campaign in 1995.

Six men were last month sent for trial in relation to the allegations.

Under French law only the CJR can investigate alleged wrongdoings carried out by ministers in the course of their time in office.

Balladur will also be investigated over claims that he used part of a fund then allocated to prime ministers in order to help fund his campaign.

Both Balladur and Léotard have denied any wrongdoing. On Monday the former prime minister said the campaign had been financed "in line with the legislation in force".

Read more of Mediapart's extensive coverage of the Karachi affair here, here and here.