PARIS, January 17 - RAPSI. The French Court of Cassation on Wednesday upheld the ruling on three defendants, including Russian-born Israeli businessman Arcadi Gaydamak, in the case on trafficking weapons to Angola.
On October 27, 2009 a Parisian court announced its ruling in the high-profile case, referred to in France as Angola-gate, sentencing Gaydamak and his French associate Pierre Falcone to six years in prison. Gaydamak did not attend the trial and was sentenced in absentia; Falcone went to prison. Former interior minister, senator Charles Pasqua was given one year in prison and a two-year suspended sentence. Gaydamak allegedly paid Pasqua for awarding him the prestigious National Order of Merit.
Overall, 36 people were sentenced as part of this case and 24 of them filed appeals. In late April 2011, the French Court of Appeals cut Gaydamak's sentence to three years and Falcones to 2.5 years, while Pasqua was acquitted.
However, Gaydamak, who claimed to be completely innocent, appealed to the higher court against the appellate court's ruling. But the Court of Cassation rejected both his appeal and those of two others involved: Alain Guillou and Claude Mouton.
According to investigators, France refused to sell weapons to the government of Jose Eduardo dos Santos during the civil war in Angola. The Angolan authorities then turned to French businessman Falcone, who organized the delivery of US$ 790 million of weapons from Eastern Europe together with Gaydamak.
The first court which heard the case ruled that the transaction was illegal because it was made in France without the permission of the authorities. But the appellate court did not uphold that ruling. Falcone's lawyers convinced the judges that he had the authority to act on behalf of the Angolan authorities because he is an Angolan national.