Judges and media accused of hounding Beregovoy to death

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The Independent Online
THE SUICIDE of Pierre Beregovoy, France's Prime Minister until five weeks ago, has prompted accusations that he was hounded by the media and unfairly criticised for his rule.

After the news that Beregovoy had shot himself in the head on Saturday, politicians wondered out loud whether a current obsession with political corruption had not gone too far. Reports at the beginning of the year that Beregovoy had accepted an interest-free loan from Roger-Patrice Pelat, a businessman, in 1986 to buy a flat marred the last months in office of a man who had maintained an impeccable 'Mr Clean' image. Pelat, who died in 1989, was later accused of insider trading.

As expressions of shock and sympathy poured in from across the political spectrum, Michel Charasse, the former Budget minister who is known for his blunt statements, blamed the death on the judiciary and the media. 'If I were a judge or a journalist, I would not sleep very well tonight,' he said.

Jack Lang, the former culture minister, said that he believed Beregovoy had taken his life because he had been 'denigrated' by the new government for his economic management.

Responsible for the policy of the strong franc and low inflation, Beregovoy was in fact one of the Socialist ministers least in the right's firing line. In addition, the government of Edouard Belladur has been at pains not to attack its predecessors, an unprecedented courtesy in modern French politics.

President Francois Mitterrand, who named Beregovoy the first secretary- general of the Elysee Palace in 1981 before launching him on a ministerial career, spent yesterday in mourning. Officials said the President had taken the death very badly and would not make a statement for the time being.

The Elysee announced that Beregovoy's body would be taken back for burial to Nevers in northern Burgundy, where he was mayor and where he killed himself.

Soul-searching in France, page 6

Obituary, page 18