Prosecutors bid to put Sarkozy in the dock over Gaddafi campaign funds

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French prosecutors are seeking to send former president Nicolas Sarkozy and 12 others to trial on charges that his 2007 presidential campaign received millions in illegal financing from the government of late Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi.

After a decade of investigation, the French national financial prosecutor’s office announced its decision on Friday to seek a trial. It is now up to judges to determine whether to move ahead.

In general, judges in France follow such prosecutors’ requests, though not always.

The case is the biggest and most shocking of multiple corruption investigations involving Sarkozy.

France Libya Sarkozy
Nicolas Sarkozy is charged with illegal campaign financing, embezzlement and corruption (AP Photo/Thibault Camus, File)

In the Libya case, he is charged with illegal campaign financing, embezzlement, passive corruption and related counts.

Sarkozy has been under investigation in the Libya case since 2013. Investigators examined claims that Gaddafi’s government secretly gave Sarkozy 50 million euros (£43 million) for his winning 2007 French 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.

The investigation gained traction when French-Lebanese businessman Ziad Takieddine told news site Mediapart in 2016 that he had delivered suitcases from Libya containing 5.0 million euros (£4.3 million) in cash to Sarkozy and his former chief of staff.

Mr Takieddine later changed his tune 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 airstrikes that helped rebel fighters topple Gaddafi’s government in 2011.

In an unrelated case, Sarkozy was sentenced to a year of house arrest for illegal campaign financing of his unsuccessful 2012 re-election bid.

In another, he was found guilty of corruption and influence peddling and given a year in prison. Sarkozy is free while both cases are pending appeal.

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