France’s Nicolas Sarkozy angrily denied receiving money from deposed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to fund his first presidential run in 2007, as one news website reported earlier yesterday.
Website Mediapart said that the Libyan regime gave €50m to Sarkozy’s campaign, citing a document being used to investigate a 2002 bombing in the Pakistani city of Karachi, which killed 11 French citizens.
The report comes just six weeks before the first round of the presidential election on Apr 22.
“If he [Gaddafi] had financed it, then I haven’t been very grateful,” Sarkozy said when a journalist asked about the report.
In Mar 2011, as France and Britain spearheaded air strikes against Libya, Gaddafi’s son Saif al Islam told Euronews TV that Libya had financed Sarkozy’s 2007 election campaign, which the president’s office also denied at the time.
Sarkozy lashed out at the journalist who asked about the report and al Islam’s claim, accusing her of sympathising with the younger Gaddafi, who is being held by Libyan militia.
“I am sorry for you that you are the spokeswoman for Gaddafi’s son,” he said.
“Gaddafi, who is known for talking nonsense, even said that there were cheques. Well then the son should just go ahead and produce them then,” he said.
A Sarkozy campaign spokeswoman, Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, also denied there was anything behind the report, saying that allegations had been repeatedly made but no proof had emerged.
A spokesman for Socialist challenger Francois Hollande refused to comment on the report beyond pointing out that Gaddafi had visited Paris after the 2007 election.
“Anyone could have been legitimately surprised by how Gaddafi was received by the current government until not that long ago,” said Bernard Cazeneuve.
The spokesman added that if Hollande won the election, he would lift state secrecy rules regarding the Karachi bombing.
A first round of voting in the election will take place on Apr 22, followed by a run-off between the top two candidates on May 6.
All recent opinion polls forecast that Hollande will win a close-fought first round and then enjoy a comfortable victory against Sarkozy in the second.
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