Angolagate: Political pressures to protect French Economic interests must not obstruct justice

Published on 6 October 2008 - Survie

Survie denounces the political manoeuvring surrounding the opening of the Angolagate trial whose only objective can be to bury this affair. For Survie justice and legality override the economic ambitions in Angola of any French business enterprise whatsoever.

Angolagate-one of the biggest presumed arms traffics to have taken place in Angola between 1993 and the year 2000- involves among a host of other protagonists the French businessman Pierre Falcon and the Israelian Franco-Russian arms dealer Arcady Gaydamak. Both men are suspected of having organised and delivered over 790 million $ worth of military equipment to the regime of president Dos Santos thereby fuelling an ongoing civil war that has left more than 500,000 persons dead over the period of 1975 to 2002. The arms sales include tanks, helicopters, gunboats and all kinds of munitions. Both men are believed to have cashed in on half of this amount and to have used the rest to pedal influence in all the proper places in France. Amongst the forty or so politicians and influent persons who supposedly shared in this bounty we find Charles Pasqua, Bernard Guillet, Jean-Christophe Mitterand, the ex-deputy Georges Fenech, Jacques Attali, Jean-Charles Marchiani...On the Angolan side lots of government personalities including the actual president José Eduardo Dos Santos have been named but are not being legally pursued.

Since the arrival of Nicolas Sarkozy to the presidency France has been trying to dump the Angolagate affair as it seems to be standing in the way of profitable Franco-Angolan partnerships ever since Angola became Africa’s number one oil producer, and the prospects of benefiting from juicy reconstruction contracts are now in sight.During a recent visit last May to the capital of Luanda, Sarkosy set the tone by assuring that "we have decided to turnover a new page away from past misunderstandings," and by promising the Angolan president that a trial in France would not seek to pursue Angolan personalities. On June 11 in a letter to the defence lawyers of Pierre Falcon the Minister of Defence Henri Morin affirmed that arms trafficking cannot be reconstituted since the weapons did not transit via French territory. This was certainly not the point of view of Alain Richard, the past Minister of Defence under the socialist Jospin government who originally filed the complaint in 2001. At that time the accusation was judged to be founded and receivable since the arms deal had taken place in France. Moreover the Appellate Court had previously validated the investigations into this affair by the judges Courroye and Prévost-Desprez. Then this summer, a couple of weeks prior to the opening of the trial, the Attorney General’s Office announces on June 23 the imminent reintegration of the ex-deputy and judge George Fenech who belongs to the presidential UMP majority and also happens to be one of the 40 persons charged in this judicial action!

Obviously a sell out in this affair would have lots of potential economic spin off for French companies in Angola. Total has important interests over there, and its executive boss Christophe Margerie was part of the presidential cortege last May in Luanda. Areva is eyeing the uranium deposits and Thalès is about to invest in security and communications systems.

Given this constellation of profitable "opportunities", we have every reason to fear that political manoeuvring will minimise this serious affair of arms trafficking, influence peddling and corrupt praxis requisite to financing an atrocious civil war responsible for killing or maiming hundreds of thousands of people. It is not only intolerable that political considerations should stand in the way of justice but the Françafrique network must finally be put on trial and judged. Is this not what Sarkosy was pleading when he vaunted his desire to see France break with its Françafrique past? Is it not counterproductive for our image in Africa as well as the rest of the world to perpetuate past policies of selfserving, economic and geopolitical interests? Certainly the spectacle of seeing our country side with arms dealers and criminals who fan civil war and chaos would mean a debasing defeat of justice for men and women all over the world!

Press contact : Olivier Thimonier : olivier.thimonier(at)

Tel .33(0)14446103253

(Translated by AZ Survie-Paris IdF)

For more information consult the fact sheet, "Angolagate. Quand la politique entre dans le prétoire, la justice en sort"

To form an idea of French "Business diplomacy" and its dire consequences in Africa consult our dossier, "Diplomatie, Business and Dictature. L’Afrique prise au piège françafricain"

NOTE : For the original press release consult Communiqués de Presse et letters ouvertes from our French site

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