Nicolas Sarkozy was at times controversial in office, out of office he has caused a political and legal brawl in France. Supporters of the former president have rallied to attack the decision by an independent magistrate to place the 58-year-old under a formal investigation. Political foes have backed the move and the magistrates independence.
“The government is very committed to respect the independence of the justice system. The Justice minister made a statement which was perfectly justified after certain comments from UMP party politicians which are disgraceful coming from politicians of the French Republic,” said Jean-Marc Ayrault, French Prime Minister.
The former leader was placed under investigation for “ taking advantage of a vulnerable person.” That was Liliane Bettencourt the L’Oreal heiress and France’s richest woman.
Author Fabrice Lhomme gave his reaction to the allegations Sarkozy’s 2007 election campaign received illegal funds from Bettencourt.
“It is a harsh blow for Sarkozy also because it was totally unexpected. But there are ways for him to appeal. His lawyer decided to appeal. If the Appeal Court confirms that Sarkozy must be placed under investigation and he is sent to the Criminal Court it means his trial could last many years. That would weaken him terribly to the point it would he difficult for him to run in the 2017 Presidential election,” he opined.
France’s former president could face up to three years in jail if found guilty. Sarkozy has repeatedly denied the claims and dismissed as gossip he took envelopes stuffed with cash.