Sarkozy detained during probe into corruption claims

Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy was detained and reportedly questioned by financial investigators in a corruption probe that could cloud his chances of a political comeback.

He was being held on suspicions he used his influence to secure leaked details of an inquiry into alleged irregularities in his 2007 election campaign.

The detention — a very unusual move for such a high-level figure — dominated French news broadcasts. The investigation is the latest in a string of probes to target the former leader.

Yet Sarkozy has not been convicted of anything, remains well-known on the international stage — and may be his troubled conservative party’s best chance to regain the presidency in 2017.

A judicial official said Sarkozy was detained for questioning at the headquarters of the judicial police in the Paris suburb of Nanterre. The official would not elaborate.

Sarkozy could be held up to 24 hours, which could be extended for another day. His lawyer, Thierry Herzog, and a magistrate, Gilbert Azibert, were also held for questioning.

French media reports say Sarkozy is being questioned in an investigation linked to financing for his 2007 presidential campaign, notably allegations that late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi gave him millions of euro in illegal campaign donations.

The case centres around whether Sarkozy and his lawyer were kept informed about the investigation by a friendly magistrate, Azibert. Sarkozy and Herzog have denied wrongdoing.


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