ON TRIAL

France's Ex-PM Acquitted

Former French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin was acquitted Thursday of accusations he plotted to slander President Nicolas Sarkozy, his former political rival, in 2004. The charges originated from a phony list of account holders at Clearstream financial clearing house who allegedly accepted bribes to influence an arms deal with Taiwan. Prosecutors argued Villepin deliberately let the bogus list, which included Sarkozy's name, continue to make waves in the press, but the court didn't buy the argument. Prosecutors are appealing the case, a motion Villepin said was "political." He accused Sarkozy of being "consumed with hate which is not, I believe, the calling of the president of the republic."