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Secret Sarkozy wiretaps OK for use in corruption probe: French court

A French court has ruled that it was legal for investigators to tap conversations involving Nicolas Sarkozy as part of a corruption probe. It's a blow for the former president, believed to be eyeing another run.

The Paris appeals court's ruling on Thursday allows the probe against Sarkozy to continue.

The former French president, now head of the opposition UMP, is accused of having used his influence to secure leaked details of an inquiry into alleged irregularities in his 2007 election campaign.

Last October, a court dropped inquiries into whether he had exploited the mental frailty of France's richest woman, L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, to fund that campaign.

But as investigators used phone-taps to examine separate allegations that Libya's Moammar Gadhafi funded the same campaign, a new suspicion arose that he had kept tabs on the Bettencourt case through a network of informants. Allegations surfaced that he had discussed the possibility of giving a magistrate a lucrative job in exchange for insider information.

Sarkozy, who was the French president between 2007-2012,

denies any wrongdoing

. It's one of several legal cases he has faced since losing the presidency to socialist Francois Hollande.

Sarkozy and his legal team had attempted to suppress the recordings, saying they breached client-lawyer privilege.

"Contrary to our legitimate hopes, the court has not upheld our calls for dismissal (of these recordings)," said Paul-Albert Iweins, one of Sarkozy's lawyers. The former president's legal team is expected to push their claim to a higher court.

Sarkozy returned to frontline politics last year ahead of an expected run for the presidency in 2017.

jr/kms (AP, AFP)

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