UK court orders extradition of French businessman sought over Sarkozy allegations

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By Reuters
UK court orders extradition of French businessman sought over Sarkozy allegations
Alexandre Djouhri leaves Westminster Magistrates Court in London, Britain, February 22, 2018. REUTERS/Peter Summers - RC12B084C200   -  Copyright  Peter Summers(Reuters)

LONDON (Reuters) – A British judge on Tuesday ordered the extradition of a French businessman suspected of funnelling money from former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to finance Nicolas Sarkozy’s 2007 presidential campaign.

Alexandre Djouhri is wanted by France over a series of allegations including active corruption of a foreign public official, conspiracy to misappropriate public funds and money-laundering.

The case is connected to accusations that former President Sarkozy received money from Gaddafi to fund his successful election bid in 2007, allegations he has denied.

“They are alleged to have been committed in circumstances connected with the political campaign of Nicolas Sarkozy,” judge Vanessa Baraitser wrote in her judgment at London’s Westminster Magistrates’ Court.

Lawyers for Djouhri, who was arrested in Jan. 2018 at London’s Heathrow Airport after arriving on a flight from his home in Switzerland, had fought extradition on the grounds the case was politically-motivated.

“I am satisfied that there is no or insufficient evidence that the French authorities have manipulated or used procedures to oppress or unfairly prejudice Mr Djouhri,” Baraitser said.

“I therefore order the extradition to France of Alexandre Djouhri.”

Sarkozy, who served as president from 2007-2012 was questioned last year about allegations relating to Gaddafi.

He has faced a series of investigations into alleged corruption, fraud, favouritism and campaign-funding irregularities since he left office and has denied all claims of wrongdoing.

(Reporting by Michael Holden; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)