Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy will go on trial for ‘receiving £42million in cash from Colonel Gaddafi to fund his election campaign’
- Sarkozy, 68, and 12 others, including three former ministers, will stand trial
- The case is the biggest of multiple corruption investigations involving Sarkozy
Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy is set to stand trial on charges that his 2007 election campaign received £42million in illegal financing from the Libyan government under its late dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
Sarkozy, 68, and 12 others will all go on trial in 2025, the national financial prosecutor Jean-Francois Bohnert announced following the closure of the decade-long investigation into the financing.
The case is the biggest of multiple corruption investigations involving the right-wing politician. He has been convicted in two others but denies any wrongdoing in all cases.
In the Libya case, he is charged with illegal campaign financing, embezzling, passive corruption, and related counts.
The trial of the former president, who held the office between 2007 and 2012, will run from January to April 2025. The dozen others also standing trial include three of his former ministers.
Late Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi (right) and then French President Nicolas Sarkozy are pictured during the National anthems at the Bab Azizia Palace in Tripoli on July 25, 2007
Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy (pictured) is set to stand trial on charges that his 2007 election campaign received £42million in illegal financing from the Libyan government under it’s late dictator Muammar Gaddafi
Sarkozy has been under investigation in the Libya case since 2013. Investigators examined claims that Gaddafi’s regime secretly gave Sarkozy 50 million euros (£42 million) for his winning 2007 campaign.
The sum would be more than double the legal campaign funding limit at the time and would violate French rules against foreign campaign financing.
Sarkozy could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted following trial in the case.
Among the 12 others facing trial in the case are Sarkozy’s former right-hand man Claude Gueant, his then head of campaign financing Eric Woerth, and former Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux.
The investigation gained traction when French-Lebanese businessman Ziad Takieddine told news site Mediapart in 2016 that he had delivered suitcases from Libya containing five million euro (£4.2 million) in cash to Sarkozy and his former chief of staff.
Takieddine later reversed course and Sarkozy sought to have the investigation closed.
After becoming president in 2007, Sarkozy welcomed Gaddafi to France with high honours later that year.
Sarkozy then put France at the forefront of NATO-led air strikes that helped rebel fighters topple Mr Gaddafi’s government in 2011.
In an unrelated case, Sarkozy was sentenced to a year under house arrest for illegal campaign financing of his unsuccessful 2012 re-election bid. He is free while the case is pending appeal.
Then French President Nicolas Sarkozy (right) and late Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi pose during the signature of 10 billion euros of trade contracts between the two countries, at the Elysee Palace in Paris on December 10, 2007
Sarkozy was also found guilty of corruption and influence peddling in another case and sentenced to a year under house arrest in an appeals trial in May this year. He took the case to France’s highest court, which suspended the sentence.
Despite the charges, Sarkozy still remains a somewhat popular figure in France.
While support for his former political grouping Les Republicans has greatly diminished in the face of Macron’s central alliance, the former president’s legacy is still evident in the current government.
The 68-year-old endorsed Macron at the last election and many of his former protégés currently hold ministerial positions.
Sarkozy’s conservative predecessor, the late Jacques Chirac, was found guilty of corruption in 2011, four years after he left office.
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