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French Judicial Official To Resign

March 1, 2000

PARIS (AP) _ Roland Dumas, charged with taking kickbacks while he was foreign minister, will resign as president of France’s highest judicial body, the Constitutional Council confirmed today.

The council said it received a letter from Dumas on Tuesday saying he intended to present his resignation to President Jacques Chirac. A presidential spokesman said Chirac’s office had not yet been informed of Dumas’ decision.

In an interview published Saturday in the daily Le Figaro, Dumas had confirmed that he would resign as president of the council. But his failure to actually do so has heightened the suspense.

Dumas took a leave of absence in March 1999 following allegations that he received funds from Elf oil, then a state company, while serving as foreign minister to former President Francois Mitterrand.

Dumas resisted quitting the Constitutional Council despite calls for his resignation from a growing number of politicians. Dumas’ failure to fulfill his role as president of the council has hindered the work of the nine-member watchdog panel charged with ensuring that French laws are respected.

A prominent lawyer and close friend of the late Mitterrand, Dumas served as foreign minister from 1988 to 1995. Investigating magistrates last week ordered him to stand trial after a nearly two-year inquiry into his role in the alleged kickback scheme.

His former mistress _ Christine Deviers-Joncour, who also faces trial _ has alleged in a book and in newspaper interviews that Dumas had a prime role in the alleged scheme linked to the oil giant Elf Aquitaine.

Dumas was placed under investigation in 1998 for illegally receiving funds from Elf between 1989 and 1992. Deviers-Joncour alleges that Dumas got her a phony job at Elf to create a direct link between the Foreign Ministry and the oil company.

An investigation showed that Deviers-Joncour received a total of $10 million from Elf. Dumas allegedly profited from a portion of the money.

Dumas repeatedly has insisted he is innocent.

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