Gary Condit testifies at Chandra Levy murder trial

Image caption,
Mr Condit's political career was ruined by suspicions of his involvement

A former US congressman has told a Washington court that privacy concerns stopped him acknowledging an affair with an intern who was later murdered.

Gary Condit was testifying at the trial of the man accused of the 2001 murder of 24-year-old Chandra Levy.

Mr Condit, who said his decision to stay quiet was based "purely on principle", was cleared of involvement in her death but his career was ruined.

El Salvadorian Ingmar Guandique is charged with murdering Ms Levy.

Ms Levy had been missing for a year before her remains were found in Rock Creek Park, in Washington DC, in May 2002.

Guandique had previously been convicted of assaulting two other women in the same park where Ms Levy's remains were discovered.

His defence team argue that he has been made a scapegoat for the failures of a botched police investigation.

'No cross words'

The Associated Press news agency said Mr Condit's voice broke slightly when he responded to a question about why he had never admitted the affair, rumours of which sparked huge media interest in the case.

"I think we're all entitled to some level of privacy," he said.

"Seems like in this country we've lost a sense of decency. I didn't commit any crime, I don't think I've done anything wrong."

Asked by Prosecutor Amanda Haines if he killed Ms Levy, he replied: "No."

He also responded "no" to the question of whether he had anything to do with her disappearance, AP reports.

Mr Condit said the last time he had seen the intern was a week before she disappeared, when they had discussed how he could help her make contacts with the FBI and other law enforcement agencies that she sought to work for.

"We never had a fight. We never had any cross words," he said.

Ms Levy had just finished an internship with the US Bureau of Prisons when she disappeared.

Over a year passed before her remains were discovered scattered on rugged ground at Rock Creek Park.