Former French interior minister Charles Pasqua claimed on 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 convicted on 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 that he intends to appeal. Gaydamak was given a six-year prison sentence in absentia.
In an interview with the daily Le Figaro, Pasqua, who served as a minister under French president Jacques Chirac, alleged that Gaydamak had served as an agent for domestic intelligence department DST. Pasqua said 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 French politicians, businessmen and other prominent figures have stood trial during the past year over the scandal, which first surfaced in 2000 after seven years of illicit trafficking.
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 ended in 2002 after causing 500,000 casualties, displacing millions and spawning a humanitarian disaster.
Santos and his communist militiamen defeated the US-backed Angolan unity movement, UNITA, 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.
On Wednesday, Gaydamak's lawyers said he would probably return to Israel in a few weeks to stand trial, after being indicted last October of laundering NIS 650m. and for fraud, in a scandal also purportedly involving Bank Hapoalim.
The tycoon, who has recently been living in Moscow, may then be extradited from Israel to France, the lawyers were quoted as saying.