Two worlds collide at French trial into so-called Karachi affair


A trial is underway in Paris into the financial aspects of the so-called Karachi affair, which involves allegations of illegal kickbacks paid in relation to French defence contracts with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan in the 1990s. The case has witnessed two very different worlds coming together in the same courtroom. On the one hand is the white-collar world of power, money and vanity represented by the accused, who were senior French advisors and officials. On the other side is the blue-collar world of workers, represented by the survivors and families of victims of the bus bombing which killed 14 people in Karachi in 2002, including 11 French defence staff who were working on contracts relating to those multi-million euro defence deals. Fabrice Arfi reports.

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For three weeks they have been a largely silent presence in the Paris courtroom. These are the individuals who have joined as civil litigants to the criminal proceedings over the financial aspect of the so-called Karachi affair. They are also the survivors and families of the victims of the bus bombing on May 8th 2002 in Karachi which killed 14 people, including 11 French employees of France's defence contractors the Direction des Constructions Navales (DCN), now the Naval Group, working on the delivery of submarines sold by the French state to Pakistan.