Former French interior minister Charles Pasqua claimed Thursday that Russian-Israeli businessman Arkadi Gaydamak was in the past an agent for a French intelligence agency.
Pasqua and Gaydamak were among 36 people found guilty Tuesday of illegally trafficking Soviet-made weapons to Angola during a civil war in the 1990s. Pasqua was fined â‚¬100,000 and given a one-year jail sentence which he intends to appeal. Gaydamak was given a six-year prison sentence in absentia.
In an interview with French daily Le Figaro Thursday, Pasqua, who served as minister under former French president Jacques Chirac, alleged that Gaydamak had served as an agent for interior intelligence department DST. Pasqua claimed that Chirac was well aware of this and called on the former president to "take responsibility."
Pasqua said that all high-ranking officials in the government were aware of the arms-sales and demanded that certain secret documents be made public so that the truth would be revealed.
Gaydamak was found guilty of masterminding $790 million worth of illegal arms trafficking to the Angolan government in the post-Cold War era.
A total of 42 politicians, businessmen and prominent French figures have stood trial during the past year over the scandal, which first surfaced in 2000 after seven years of illicit trafficking.
French arms dealer Pierre Falcone, Gaydamak's business partner, was also given a six-year sentence. Jean-Cristophe Mitterrand, son of the late French president Francois Mitterrand, was given a suspended two-year sentence and a hefty fine.
The trafficking deal, commonly known as "Angola-gate," supplied military equipment to Angolan President JosÃ© Eduardo de Santos during his country's civil war, which was brought to an end in 2002 after causing 500,000 casualties, displacing millions and spawning a humanitarian disaster.
Santos and his communist militiamen fought against the US-backed Angolan unity movement, UNITA, and defeated them using weapons, warships, tanks and other arms supplied by the trafficking ring.
Gaydamak and Falcone were charged with forging connections with politicians in the war-torn, oil-rich African republic in the early 1990s and going on to commit bribery, tax evasion, fraud and embezzlement.
It is rumored that the ring had agreed to the weapons deals in exchange for Santos's permission to drill for oil in the area.
On Wednesday, Gaydamak's lawyers said he will probably return to Israel in a few weeks to stand trial, after being indicted last October for allegedly laundering NIS 650 million and for fraud, in a scandal also purportedly involving Bank Hapoalim.
The businessman, who has recently been living in Moscow, may then be extradited by Israel to France, the lawyers were quoted as saying.