French 'Karachi Affair' judges unlock official secrecy laws in legal first

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Evidence sought by Paris-based judges leading a highly sensitive judicial investigation into the murders of 11 French naval engineers in Pakistan in 2002, which has exposed a major political corruption scandal in France, has for years been held back by France’s laws protecting defence and security secrecy. The persistent refusal to hand over intelligence documents and the silence of several key witnesses has heightened speculation of an orchestrated cover up to protect political and diplomatic interests. But, Mediapart has learnt, judges Marc Trévedic and Laurence Le Vert have now found a legal loophole with which to overcome the blanket protection of a law too often used to blunt investigations. The breakthrough may at last reveal the truth hidden behind 'The Karachi Affair', a dark and complex case that has rocked France’s political establishment. Fabrice Arfi reports.

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On May 8th 2002, in the Pakistani port city of Karachi, 11 French naval engineers were killed when a suicide bomber drove a car packed with explosives into the side of their minibus as they left their hotel. Three Pakistani nationals, including the bomber, also died in the attack which left 12 seriously wounded.