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France's Sarkozy charged over alleged Libya campaign funding

March 21, 2018

Preliminary charges have been filed against the former president over irregularities in his 2007 election campaign funding. Sarkozy has been under investigation since 2013 due to allegations he received funds from Libya.

Sarkozy portrait
Image: ap

Sarkozy was charged with corruption late Wednesday as part of a probe into the funding of his 2007 election campaign. He had been in police custody since Tuesday, according to a French judiciary official.

Sarkozy has been under investigation since 2013 over claims that Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's regime secretly gave him €50 million ($61.7 million)  for the 2007 campaign.

The sum is more than double the legal campaign funding limit. The payments would also violate French rules against foreign financing.

Tuesday was the first time Sarkozy had been questioned in the inquiry and his questioning takes place weeks after a former associate, Alexandre Djouhri, was arrested in London and later released on bail.

Nicolas Sarkozy casts a vote
Sarkozy attempted a political comeback in the 2017 presidential electionsImage: picture alliance/dpa/E. Feferberg

Sarkozy denies allegations

Sarkozy, who served as French president from 2007-2012, has denied allegations he received funding from the Libyan regime.

In 2016, following a fresh wave of Libyan funding allegations, his lawyer Thierry Herzog told news agency Reuters that, "Once more, and always before an election, Mediapart is trying to taint Nicolas Sarkozy with allegations [that are] as untrue today as they were yesterday."

In November 2016, ahead of the 2017 presidential election, investigative website Mediapart published a video that depicted French-Lebanese businessman Ziad Takieddine saying he had delivered suitcases containing €5 million euros ($6.2 million) in cash to Sarkozy and his former chief of staff in 2007.

Sarkozy and Gadhafi

Sarkozy had a complex relationship with Gadhafi. Not long after he became president, Sarkozy invited the Libyan leader to France for a state visit, but he then put France at the forefront of NATO-led airstrikes against Gadhafi's troops that helped rebel fighters topple his regime in 2011.

law,kl/rt (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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