Like the stories of obscure negotiations, manipulations on merits of parallel diplomacy and political issues You will adore the Angolagate! A civil war in Africa, a trade of arms, men of networks, a dedicated Secretary and political pressures... The trial-River 40 defendants defended by the fine flower of the bar opens today in Paris. The poster is tempting: Jean-Christophe Mitterrand, Charles Pasqua, Jean-Charles Marchiani, Jacques Attali or even Paul-Loup Sulitzer are accused of trafficking in influence, abuse of social goods or concealment, breach of trust or stolen property. At their sides: two businessmen sulphurous reputation, Pierre - Joseph Falcone and Arcadi Gaydamak, prosecuted for arms trafficking. What animate the hearings to be held until 4 March the 11th House of the correctional tribunal of Paris.
For several months, the judges, under the leadership of the Chairman of the hearing, Jean-Baptiste Parlos, focused on the 170 volumes of proceedings to try to understand under what conditions weapons were delivered from 1993 to the Angolan Government in war against opponents of Unita. At this time, the formation of Jonas Savimbi threatens the capital, Luanda, and power, which has need for weapons, collides with the official line of the French Government: indeed refused to sell arms to countries at war. Angolan President, José Dos Santos, decided to send a request for informal military assistance.
This is where everything begins with, in order of entry into stage, Curial Jean-Bernard, a humanitarian connoisseur of Africa, Jean-Christophe Mitterrand, who will be responsible to report Dos Santos with Pierre Falcone, itself very linked to Jean-Charles Marchiani, close to Charles Pasqua. The arms sale contract is concluded in 1993 and 1994, for $ 800 million. And to deliver them, Arcadi Gaydamak, suspected of having belonged to the KGB, provides the Brenco, society of Falcone, a Slovak company called "ZTS Osos", which is the agent.
Envelopes of cash
During this time, in Paris, in the lavish mansion of Brenco, Wagram avenue, visitors move and often emerge with an envelope of cash. Among them: Jean-Charles Marchiani, Jean-Christophe Mitterrand, Paul-Loup Sulitzer or the Director General of RMC, Jean-Noël Pack... The whereabouts and venues dutifully listed by the Secretary to Pierre Falcone faithful in "memos". "Most frequently, the payments of species were named by the use of the term"Galileo", associated with a name or an amount", explains Judge Philippe Courroye in its order for reference before the Correctional Court. Galilee, was Samuel Mandelsaft, an old friend of Falcone, who travels regularly avenue Wagram with a plastic bag filled with cash. The old man is now on the run. As Arcadi Gaydamak. However, Pierre-Joseph Falcone international arrest warrant has been cancelled... The man who is at the centre of the case was thus able to return to France and will be there today for the opening of a trial that embarrassment to many people.
In may, Nicolas Sarkozy travelled to Luanda to meet with President José Dos Santos, with whom he wished to "turn the page of misunderstandings of the past." Angola is the fourth largest producer of oil in Africa, and Pierre Falcone is the protégé of Dos Santos, who appointed him Counsellor at Unesco. In this context, counsel, accustomed to these hearings show, have refined their arguments and prepared their startling revelations, their small time bombs. Their goal: blasting this folder which poisons a decade franco-angolaises relations. Moreover, hostilities have already begun. Thus, last week, two articles published in "Le Canard Enchaîné" and Lepoint.fr were talk books Yves Bertrand, who was the boss of General information from 1992 to 2004. Indicate, allegedly in connection with the judge to hear case Brenco (the other name of the Angolagate), Philippe Courroye. According to this thesis, the case would be a political manipulation aimed to remove Charles Pasqua before performing the presidential election, 2002 (see opposite).
The letter from the Minister
For their part, the lawyers of Falcone have signed a potentially explosive letter Hervé Morin. In this letter, the Minister of Defence explained that in the absence of transit through French territory, the legislation on the arms trade "does not apply to the activity carried on by Mr. Falcone". Legally, the facts do therefore replicate to a "traffic" of weapons, but to a simple "trade". There is more Angolagate, since the bulk of the prosecution is based on the offence. In its order for reference, which incorporates much of the theses of the charge, Philippe Courroye has clearly identified the legal problem: "even in the absence of transit of weapons on French territory, he wrote, illicit activity conducted under the guise of ZTS Osos has well driving on French territory. These transactions were actually on war materials, weapons and ammunition under the Legislative Decree of 1939.
Justice is now five months to sort out the imbroglio that could be that incredible if he had stirred tens of millions of dollars and fueled one of the most deadly civil wars in recent years in Africa.