Sarkozy stays silent in witness box at Paris trial of former aides

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Ex-French president Nicolas Sarkozy appeared on Tuesday, as he was ordered to, as a witness at the trial of his former aides accused of misuse of public funds, but refused to answer questions, arguing that he was accountable 'to the French people, not to a court'.

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Nicolas Sarkozy has appeared in court as the first former French president to be ordered to testify as a witness – but refused point blank to answer any questions, reports The Guardian.

“It is an essential principle of democracies known as the separation of powers, and as president of the Republic I do not have to account for the organisation of my office or the way in which I exercised my mandate,” he told the court in Paris on Tuesday.

France’s president from 2007 to 2012 told the court that the order, which the judge said was necessary “to determine the truth” since Sarkozy had probably “influenced the acts of which the defendants are accused”, was “entirely anti-constitutional”.

Sarkozy said he was accountable “to the French people, not to a court”. He has not been charged or interrogated in the case, in which five of his former aides and allies are accused of misusing public funds on polling contracts.

The former head of state had said earlier he would refuse to testify in the trial, but told the court he had reconsidered because he “respected and have always respected” the judicial system, even if he considered the order to testify “totally disproportionate”.

Sarkozy then exercised his right not to answer a lengthy series of questions from the judge and a lawyer for Anticor, the anti-corruption association that brought the case.

Read more of this report from The Guardian.

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