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UPDATE 2-Ex-EADS strategy chief placed in custody

(Adds background, details)

PARIS, June 17 (Reuters) - Jean-Paul Gut, a former strategy chief of EADS EAD.PA, has been placed in custody as part of a probe into suspected insider trading at the European aerospace group, a justice official said on Tuesday.

He is due to appear before examining magistrates later on Tuesday or on Wednesday. They will decide whether to open a formal investigation.

Earlier Gut’s lawyers issued a statement saying their client had asked to be heard by judges.

“Jean-Paul Gut has taken the initiative in asking to be heard as soon as possible by the judges in charge of the EADS case,” his lawyers said in a statement e-mailed to Reuters on Tuesday.

“(He) can therefore explain himself dispassionately and show that he was not benefiting from privileged information when he decided to exercise his stock options,” the statement added.

“This sale, which was part of his continual exercise of share options, took place in strict respect of the regulations and internal rules of EADS and at authorised dates,” the statemet said.

Judges are investigating the selling of stock in 2006 by people inside EADS, weeks before the Franco-German-Spanish company’s Airbus unit unveiled delays to its A380 superjumbo.

The announcement of worsening delays in building the world’s largest airliner wiped a quarter off the value of EADS shares in June 2006.

Last month, former EADS co-chief executive Noel Forgeard was placed under formal investigation on suspicion of insider trading.

As well as Forgeard and Gut, 15 other individuals and EADS shareholders Lagardere LAGA.PA and Daimler DAIGn.DE have been cited in a report by France's market watchdog AMF. (Reporting by Marie Maitre and Thierry Leveque; Editing by David Cowell)

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