PARIS, July 1. /ITAR-TASS/. The anti-corruption branch of the French police has summoned ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy for interrogation.
The car of the former leader arrived at the department of legal police in the city of Nanterre.
As legal sources reported, Sarkozy has been taken into custody. This is the first case in the contemporary history of France when an ex-head of state is placed under custody. Such a regime provides for detention for 24 hours and it may be extended once for the same term.
Sarkozy is a suspect in a case of alleged influence peddling, i.e. influencing an official in aim to make him do certain acts for a consideration.
The ex-president of France attracted the attention of investigation authorities as they were looking into alleged funding of his election campaign by ex-leader of Libya Muammar Gaddafi. When examining the wiretapped phone conversations of Sarkozy the investigators unexpectedly found out important data concerning another case that previously involved Sarkozy, — the case of billionaire Liliane Bettencourt. She was suspected in illegally providing huge sums for Sarkozy’s election campaign.
The wiretapped conversations clearly pointed to the fact that one of the judges conducting the Bettencourt case agreed to hand over to Sarkozy and his lawyer official investigative information and notify him about his plans in exchange for a future high-ranking post in Monaco.
Earlier on Monday, Sarkozy’s lawyer Thierry Herzog has been detained for questioning within this case. Similar measures were taken re two French judges suspected of disclosure of investigative information.
In France, people recognized guilty of influence peddling may face up to ten years in prison and a fine of €150 thousand.
In late January, France 3 TV channel aired an earlier unknown interview of former Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. On the audiotape dated March 2011, the colonel mentioned that he was personally financing Sarkozy’s election campaign in 2007.
The interview took place in the very beginning of the civil war in Libya and several days after France recognized the legitimacy of Gaddafi’s rivals — the oppositionist National Transitional Council.
Speaking about the attitude of France, which, led by Sarkozy, became one of the initiators of the military operation and demanded the immediate ousting of Gaddafi, he said he felt betrayed. “Sarkozy is mentally handicapped,” the Libyan leader noted. “He became president thanks to me. It was us who gave him funds that allowed him win”.
A sum of €50 million was mentioned in media.
The police also launched the investigation of financing Sarkozy’s 2012 election campaign. In late May, Sarkozy’s party Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) was suspected in financial fraud with the funds allocated for the ex-president’s electoral marathon.
One of UMP’s high-ranking members Jérôme Lavrilleux repented in public and admitted the fact of fraud. According to Lavrilleux, the case refers to a sum of circa €11 million. UNP on its behalf was registering fake orders through French PR agency Bygmalion, but the money was spent for arranging pre-election events. However, Lavrilleux stressed that Sarkozy himself “was not aware of the violations”.
Meanwhile, opponents of the ex-president doubt that Sarkozy did not know about the alleged frauds.