Nicolas Sarkozy’s corruption case suspended

Nicolas Sarkozy has asked for the case to be dismissed. Picture: Reuters
Nicolas Sarkozy has asked for the case to be dismissed. Picture: Reuters
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A CORRUPTION investigation against former French president Nicolas Sarkozy has been suspended, French media has reported.

Judicial sources were quoted as saying that the Paris appeals court is to look into a request by Sarkozy for the case to be ­dismissed.

However Sarkozy, 59, is still facing several other judicial ­inquiries.

He was placed under formal investigation over alleged influence peddling in July.

He appeared before a judge in Paris after 15 hours of questioning by anti-corruption police.

It is thought to be the first time a former French head of state has been held in police ­custody. Sarkozy’s detention over accusations of influence-peddling at France’s highest court followed the arrest of two magistrates and Sarkozy’s lawyer, Thierry ­Herzog.

The former leader is said to have offered one of the judges, Gilbert Azibert, a job in return for inside information on the so-called Bettencourt affair.

This was a case in which Sarkozy was accused of illegally accepting millions from Liliane Bettencourt, 91, the L’Oréal heiress and France’s richest woman, 
for his election campaign in 2007.

The case has now been dropped.

Officials also believe Sarkozy was illegally tipped off that his phone had been tapped by those investigating whether he received money from the then Libyan dictator Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi.

Sarkozy is said to have used a mobile phone, registered under the name Paul Bismuth, to speak to his lawyer because he suspected he had been bugged.

After he stepped down as president in 2012, the Paris home he shares with his third wife, former model Carla Bruni, was raided by anti-corruption police.

Herzog and Azibert were also placed under formal investigation over the allegations.

Last week, Sarkozy said he would seek the leadership of the opposition UMP party. The move was widely seen as a first step towards a presidential bid in 2017.

His announcement ended months of speculation about the intentions of the conservative former president, who vowed to give up politics after missing out on re-election in 2012.

He said he would seek the leadership of his party because of the “hopelessness, anger and lack of ­future” he sensed in France.

He also voiced fears about the rise of the far right.

The UMP party elections are due to be held in November.

Although Sarkozy has kept a low profile since leaving office, he has faced a series of ­investigations that involve him in some capacity.

Sarkozy denies wrongdoing and has vowed to clear his name.

The suspension of the corruption investigation could last several months, according to judicial sources in France.

In France, when a suspect is placed under formal investigation, he or she is then examined by a judge, who determines whether there is sufficient evidence for the suspect to be charged.

It often, but not always, leads to trial. Influence-peddling can be punished by up to ten years in prison and a fine of €150,000 (£120,000).