Prosecutor calls for Woerth’s acquittal in Bettencourt case

Bordeaux (AFP) – A French prosecutor on Friday called for former budget minister Eric Woerth to be acquitted of stolen property charges in a trial sparked by the alleged exploitation of France’s richest woman Liliane Bettencourt.

“There are no accusations and no evidence sufficient to prove his guilt,” deputy prosecutor Gerard Aldige said, referring to accusations that Woerth used some of the L’Oreal heiress’s fortune to finance Nicolas Sarkozy’s 2007 presidential campaign.

While giving evidence on February 10 in the trial in the southwest city of Bordeaux, Woerth denied taking roughly 50,000 euros ($56,000) from Patrice de Maistre, who managed Bettencourt’s estate.

De Maistre, who is also on trial, has been accused of taking advantage of the 92-year-old heiress in getting her to hand over envelopes of cash to members of Sarkozy’s conservative UMP party.

“I know what I did, I know what I didn’t do,” testified Woerth, a UMP member and budget minister from 2007-2010.

“I did not receive cash from Mister de Maistre to finance this campaign or anything else.”

The affair tarnished the latter half of Sarkozy’s presidency and when he lost the 2012 election, he was placed under formal investigation for illegal campaign financing and taking advantage of Bettencourt.

However, the charges against Sarkozy were dropped in October 2013 due to lack of evidence, but he has since been tied to or investigated in several other cases.

The prosecutor sought the maximum penalty of three years behind bars for Francois-Marie Banier, a 67-year-old artist who is godfather to Johnny Depp’s daughter.

He is suspected of having taken advantage of the heiress, who showered him with gifts such as paintings by Picasso and Matisse, and millions of euros in cash.

Aldige also called for 18 months in prison for de Maistre.

Attribution:

Prosecutor calls for Woerth’s acquittal in Bettencourt case
AFP
February 20, 2015
Yahoo News
http://news.yahoo.com/prosecutor-calls-woerths-acquittal-bettencourt-case-191844137.html

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