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Swiss judge orders freezing of Mitterrand accounts

Jean-Christophe Mitterrand is being held on suspicion of complicity in arms trafficking.

(Keystone / AP Photo / Michel Euler)

An investigating magistrate in Geneva has ordered banks in the canton to freeze any accounts held by Jean-Christophe Mitterrand, the son of the late French president, who is suspected of complicity in illegal arms trafficking.

The magistrate, Daniel Devaud, said he had issued the order on the request of a French counterpart. He said he was unable to say whether there were any accounts.

Geneva's cantonal prosecutor, Bernard Bertossa, told swissinfo on Tuesday that the French request would be met if it contained sufficient indications that any funds were likely to have come from criminal activities.

Mitterrand has admitted receiving nearly SFr3 million ($1.88 million)on a Swiss account, but says it was for legal oil transactions. His lawyer said on Wednesday only about SFr400,000 remained in Switzerland.

The 54 year-old has been in jail in France since December 21 on suspicion of helping organise arms sales from Russia to Angola in the early 1990s, without the knowledge or permission of the French government.

Mitterrand, who advised his father on African affairs from 1986 to 1992, is also suspected of influence peddling and abuse of confidential and company funds in relation to the sale.

He has not yet been charged, but has been kept in detention for fear that he would try to tamper with evidence if set free. An offer to set Mitterrand free on bail is conditional on him not communicating with others under investigation in the case.

French investigating magistrates said on Tuesday they had asked canton Geneva for information relating to the case, as well as for any accounts held by Mitterrand to be blocked.

Devaud said on Friday he had "sent a circular letter to banks in Geneva requesting a certain number of things, including the freezing of any bank accounts in Geneva".

swissinfo with agencies

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