New accusations that French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing received diamonds on a number of occasions from deposed Central African Emperor Bokassa are to be published Wednesday along with an account of how the French leader recently transferred large numbers of official gifts from his private residence to the Elysee Palace.
The additional evidence offered by the satirical and investigative weekly Canard Enchaine seems bound to give fresh impetus to an affair that had already harmed the French president's image at home and abroad.
Although Giscard cannot be accused of doing anything illegal -- there is no legislation in France regulating the acceptance of gifts by officials -- it is clearly a major political embarrasment. There has been widespread questioning of the ethics involved even from a number of commentators normally favorable to Giscard's policies.
The Canard has circulated advance copies of Wednesday's issue showing the facsimile of a Bokassa letter indicating that Giscard was to get a gift of two or more presentation boxes of diamonds soon after becoming president of France.
According to the Canard, the diamonds were presented to Giscard along with four elephant tusks on Sept. 27, 1974, at a luncheon at Bokassa's hunting lodge in the Sologne region south of Paris.
The Canard did not say how many diamonds were involved or estimate their value. It listed four other occassions on which it said Giscard had allegedly gotten precious stones from Bokassa, including one during a Franco-African summit meeting Giscard attended as president in the Central African capital of Bangui in March 1975. The newspaper said there were 20 carats, including a large stone, given then.
The list includes an occasion the Canard wrote about in early October, in an article also accompanied by a facisimile of a letter from Bokassa to back up the allegation. The French president has never denied receiving that gift, but has challenged value of $250,000 that the Canard placed on it.
In addition to listing two other private Giscard visits to Bokassa in 1970 and 1972 as occasions on which the French leader got gifts of diamonds, the Canard described in great detail the alleged presidential efforts in recent weeks to eliminate any suggestions that he or his family have benefited personally from gifts they have received.
On Nov. 16, the newspaper said, a package containing various African jewelry, including two necklaces made up of gold nuggets, was contributed for the annual charity auction in Paris of the french Catholic missions in Africa along with the personal calling card of Giscard's wife Anne Aymone bearing a hand-written apology for not delivering the jewelry in person.
The weight of the gold jewelry was nerly 4.5 pounds, the Canard said, adding that there was also a silver necklace, an ivory bracelet with a gold clasp and other items.
The Canard noted that the jewelry contribution to the missions preceded by just 11 days Giscard's Nov. 27 television appearance in which he spoke about the matter for the first time publicly, saying all the official gifts he had received had been given to charities or museums or were being held at the Elysee Palace for later distribution.