Libyan funding: Sarkozy clan's secret plan to clear man behind airliner bombing

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According to documents gathered by an elected official in Tripoli, in 2005 Nicolas Sarkozy's close friend and personal lawyer Thierry Herzog offered to get an arrest warrant and conviction against a senior Libyan official – who was blamed for a terrorist attack - quashed. The man in question, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's brother-in-law and security chief Abdullah Senussi, had been jailed for life in his absence for masterminding the 1989 bombing of a French UTA airline DC10 passenger plane over Niger, in which 170 people lost their lives. The documents, seen by Mediapart, also show that Herzog was taken to Tripoli to discuss the affair by Francis Szpiner, the lawyer for the victims of the attack, though the latter has denied making the trip. The revelations point to a potential quid pro quo to explain why the Libyan regime would have been willing to help fund Sarkozy's 2007 presidential campaign, claims over which the former president is being investigated. Karl Laske and Fabrice Arfi report.

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It is new evidence of the pact that Nicolas Sarkozy's team had with the Libyan regime under Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. Archives from the former regime, gathered by an elected representative in Tripoli connected with the 2011 revolution, Samir Shegwara, show that the Sarkozy clan was willing in 2005 to help a key figure in Libya with his legal case. In that year, just a month-and-a-half after Nicolas Sarkozy's first visit to Tripoli, his close friend and personal layer Thierry Herzog himself went to the Libyan capital offering to obtain a complete “quashing” of the criminal proceedings against Colonel Myammar Gaddafi's brother-in-law and security chief Abdullah Senussi. Senussi had been jailed for life in his absence for masterminding the 1989 bombing of a French UTA airline DC10 passenger plane over Niger, in which 170 people lost their lives.In March this year, when he was being questioned in custody in relation to claims that his 2007 presidential campaign was funded by the Libyan regime, Nicolas Sarkozy denied having any contact with the Libyan spy chief. He said that he had been “warned” by officials at the Ministry of the Interior – where he was minister at the time - “against a meeting with Senussi, who was wanted by the international justice system”. The former president also claimed that “this man [editor's note, Senussi] tried to contact a lawyer who is close to me, namely Thierry Herzog”. But his friend had told him that it was “out of the question that he would ever be Senussi's lawyer”.