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French police on Saturday arrested and questioned a member

March 18, 1995

PARIS (AP) _ French police on Saturday arrested and questioned a member of Parliament, whose son admitted his father faked an alibi for embattled leftist politician Bernard Tapie in a soccer bribery trial.

Jacques Mellick, who is also Socialist mayor of the northern city of Bethune, claimed he was in Paris on June 17, 1993 for a meeting with Tapie at the same time Tapie is accused of offering a bribe to a soccer coach to fix a game.

Mellick’s son, also named Jacques, said in a communique that his father went to Paris that day but was unable to meet Tapie.

Mellick’s schedule ``was too tight; he was not able to make it to the meeting and so returned to Bethune,″ according to the communique that his son said he drafted with his father.

On Friday, ex-Mellick aide Corinne Krajewski admitted to judges at the bribery trial that she and Mellick did not travel to Paris on that day. The trip had long been questioned because of the timing between Mellick’s meetings in Bethune and Paris.

Mellick said Friday night that he did not understand ``the suspect change of attitude″ of his former aide. ``One can’t avoid asking who is profiting from this new version.″

Tapie, 51, a rags-to-riches politician who has eyed the presidency and appeals to younger voters, has long accused his political rivals of trying to destroy him.

The scandal broke when a Valenciennes player blew the whistle on a match-fixing plot by Tapie’s team, Olympique Marseille, in May 1993. Three Valenciennes players acknowledged they received around $50,000 each to throw a French League match against Marseille.

OM, the strongest team in France at the time, reportedly wanted Valenciennes to go easy. It won a European Champions Cup match against AC Milan the following week.

Tapie was declared bankrupt in December. If he loses his appeal, he will be barred from holding political office for five years, forcing him to abandon his seat in the National Assembly and his plans to run for Marseille mayor.

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