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Paris appeals court acquits ex-PM in slander case
Paris appeals court acquits ex-PM Villepin in slander case
By The Associated Press

PARIS (AP) ' A Paris appeals court has acquitted former Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin of charges he took part in a smear campaign against his rival, President Nicolas Sarkozy, a fellow conservative.

Villepin was acquitted last year of charges of complicity in slander in the so-called Clearstream affair.

The prosecutor appealed, leading to the proceedings that concluded with Wednesday's acquittal. Prosecutors had been seeking a 15-month suspended sentence against Villepin.

The six-year-long scandal is widely seen as having hurt Villepin's political fortunes ahead of next year's presidential election.

Villepin is perhaps best known abroad for a forceful 2003 U.N. speech urging the United States not to invade Iraq.

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