France is scandalised at the turn taken in investigations into the alleged activities and means used by the previous head of state Nicolas Sarkozy, seeing him detained by the police for high-level questioning.
Sarkozy’s trouble with the law in part stems from his 2007 campaign to become president of the French Republic. Suspicions of influence peddling surfaced as his chain of finance was being investigated.
Scrutiny centred on late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. He made a highly publicised visit to Paris after Sarkozy had regained the Elysee. This was the first invitation extended to Gaddafi by a western head of state since the end of his pariah treatment as a sponsor of terrorism, which had begun in the 1980s. How relations changed between 2007 and 2011. It had been claimed Gaddafi funded Sarkozy’s election. A few days later, as part of western action to police the Arab Spring uprising, French war planes bombed Libya.
Through euronews, in an interview, one of the Colonel’s sons claimed there was no room for doubt.
Saïf Al-Islam Gaddafi said: “First of all, Sarkozy’s got to give back the money he accepted from Libya to finance his election campaign. It came from us, and we have the proof — all the details: bank accounts, transfer documents. We’re ready to reveal everything, soon.”
The investigation into whether there is any truth to this includes a legal recording of a phone conversation between Sarkozy and his lawyer Thierry Herzog. Questions were raised over right of confidentiality.
The former president is suspected of having tried to obtain information, through Herzog, about his case, from judge Gilbert, in return for help advancing his career.
The left-leaning French online investigative journal Mediapart published transcripts of phone calls allegedly by Sarkozy, using a mobile under the name of a former friend, Paul Bismuth, a property developer living in Israel — to evade monitoring of Sarkozy’s own cell phone.
Mediapart journalist Fabrice Arfi said: “Since Sarkozy left the Elysee, he has put in place a real ‘black cabinet’ – a network of informers, hidden throughout the state apparatus. Not just one or two, but many, which allowed him to be kept informed of the investigations underway – not for fun but to impede the normal course of justice.”
Before any return to French political Formula One, Sarkozy would have to clear the track of several probes — not only about alleged Libyan campaign money and influence peddling.
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