French Judges File Charges Against Former President Sarkozy in a Case Linked to Libya

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French investigative judges filed preliminary charges against former President Nicolas Sarkozy on Friday, September 6, 2023, for his alleged involvement in an attempt to mislead magistrates in order to clear him in a case regarding the suspected illegal financing from Libya during his 2007 presidential campaign.

According to a statement from the financial prosecutors’ office, preliminary charges accuse Sarkozy of benefiting from corruptly influencing a witness and participating in a criminal association in order to mislead the magistrates in charge of the judicial investigation into suspicions of Libyan financing of his election campaign.

However, Sarkozy denied any involvement in this matter, and in a statement, his lawyers said that the former president is determined to assert his rights, establish the truth, and defend his honour.

According to French law, preliminary charges mean there is reason to suspect a crime has been committed. Still, they allow magistrates more time to investigate before deciding whether to send the case to trial.

According to a media report, Sarkozy is suspected of giving the go-ahead or allowing several people to do so regarding a fraudulent attempt to clear him in the so-called Libyan case.

Sarkozy and 12 others will go on trial in early 2025 on charges that his 2007 presidential campaign received millions in illegal financing from the government of late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Sarkozy has been under investigation in the Libya case since 2013 and is charged with illegal campaign financing, embezzlement, passive corruption, and related counts.

Investigators claim that Gaddafi’s government secretly gave Sarkozy 50 million euros for his 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.

In 2016, French-Lebanese Ziad Takieddine said that he had delivered suitcases from Libya containing 5 million euros ($6.2 million) in cash to Sarkozy and his former chief of staff.

In 2007, Sarkozy welcomed Gaddafi to France with high honours, which put France at the forefront of NATO-led airstrikes that helped rebel fighters topple Gadhafi’s government in 2011, in which he was assassinated on October 20, 2011 in Sirte, Libya.

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