October 1, 2019 / 8:41 AM / 15 days ago

Ex-French PM Balladur to face trial over 1990s Pakistan submarine deal: source

FILE PHOTO: Edouard Balladur, former French prime minister, attends an event in Paris February 8, 2011. REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File Photo

PARIS (Reuters) - Former French prime minister Edouard Balladur and an ex-defence minister will face trial over the so-called “Karachi affair”, an inquiry related to alleged kickbacks in a mid-1990s submarine deal with Pakistan, a judicial source said on Tuesday.

Balladur, who was prime minister between 1993 and 1995, and Francois Leotard will face trial in a special French court set for present and past members of government, the source said.

Both Balladur and Leotard have denied any wrongdoing.

Those examining the case are looking into whether the alleged kickbacks from the deal financed Balladur's 1995 presidential election campaign, when Balladur eventually lost to the late Jacques Chirac. (reut.rs/2msusrM)

Judges are trying to unravel a series of dealings by middlemen, and possible kickbacks linked to the sale of Agosta class submarines by the French government to Pakistan in the 1990s.

The contracts with Pakistan, and commission payments to intermediaries, came under the spotlight after a 2002 suicide bomb attack on a bus in the Pakistani city of Karachi killed 11 French nationals working on the submarine project.

Pakistan authorities attributed the attack to Islamist militants, but an investigation into the bomb attack is trying to establish whether there was any link to financial flows relating to the sale of three submarines to Pakistan.

Reporting by Simon Carraud; Writing by Benoit Van Overstraeten; Editing by Sophie Louet, Sudip Kar-Gupta and Alison Williams

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