Sarkozy Risks Trial After French Court Ruling: Sources

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy leaves the Elysee Palace in Paris after a lunch with heads of states and officials last year. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)

PARIS (AFP) — A Paris appeals court has thrown out a bid by ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy to dismiss an inquiry into claims he used Libyan cash for his 2007 election campaign, legal sources said Thursday.

The ruling means a trial is likely over suspicions that Sarkozy and his associates accepted millions of euros from the regime of former strongman Moamer Kadhafi, though they can still appeal to France’s highest criminal court.

Sarkozy, 65, denies the charges that were sparked by investigative website Mediapart in 2012, when it published a document purporting to show that Kadhafi agreed to give Sarkozy up to 50 million euros ($58 million or $67.6 million at today’s rates).

Judges are also investigating claims by a French-Lebanese businessman, Ziad Takieddine, who said he delivered suitcases carrying a total of five million euros from the Libyan regime to Sarkozy’s chief of staff in 2006 and 2007.

The former president was charged in 2018 with taking bribes, concealing the embezzlement of Libyan public funds and illegal campaign financing.

Sarkozy and his former ministers Claude Gueant, Eric Woerth and Brice Hortefeux challenged the validity of the investigation on a number of procedural grounds.

All but Hortefeux are also charged in the case.

The former president is also seeking to invoke head-of-state immunity on some of the counts against him.

Also charged in the case is Alexandre Djouhri, a businessman suspected of acting as a middleman for the cash transfers.

Sarkozy, who retired from politics after a failed comeback attempt for the 2017 presidential vote, has accused the Paris judiciary of hounding him.

It is not the only legal headache for the former right-wing president.

He has also charged in two other cases, one relating to fake invoices devised to mask overspending on his failed 2012 reelection campaign, and another for alleged influence peddling.

He is set to go on trial in the second case on October 5, when he will become France’s first ex-president in the dock for corruption.

© Agence France-Presse

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