Former President Sarkozy faces charges in French corruption probe


PARIS (AP) — Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, his lawyer and a magistrate are facing preliminary
charges in a corruption investigation linked to allegations that he took 50 million euros ($67 million)
in illegal campaign funds from Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi, after a night of questioning by judicial
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said the judicial investigation is being carried out independently of
the Socialist government, which defeated Sarkozy in elections in 2012.
“This situation is serious, the facts are serious,” Valls told BFM television Wednesday. “The indictment
concerns magistrates — high level magistrates — a lawyer, a former president of France.
But as head of the government, I’m asking that we recall the independence of the justice system, which
must carry out its work serenely. No one is above the law, is the second principle. And thirdly, and it
is important to remind it, there is the presumption of innocence which applies to everybody.”
Lawyers for Thierry Herzog, Sarkozy’s attorney, and the magistrate, Gilbert Azibert, said the men were
handed preliminary charges of influence trafficking. The French daily Le Monde says the questioning
centers around whether Sarkozy and his lawyer were kept informed about the investigation into the Libyan
allegations by Azibert in exchange for promises of a post in Monaco.
Azibert did not receive a job in Monaco.
Sarkozy has vigorously denied wrongdoing.
After further investigation, judges will determine whether to bring the case to trial.
Suspicions are based at least in part on taped phone conversations between Sarkozy and his lawyer,
Thierry Herzog.
Herzog’s lawyer, Paul-Albert Iweins, sharply criticized the decision to take the men into custody for
questioning, which lasted into the early hours of Wednesday.
“None of these men is going to flee, they are not going to ignore a summons,” Iweins told France Info.
“The only reason to detain them is to apply psychological pressure.”

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