French presidents come and go, investigating magistrates remain

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When Nicolas Sarkozy descended the central courthouse buildings in Bordeaux on the morning of November 22nd, entering an underground office to be questioned by magistrates leading investigations into the wide-ranging corruption allegations surrounding the affairs of L’Oréal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, the former French president faced a humbling moment in more ways than one. For not only did he find himself in exactly the same situation as his predecessor, Jacques Chirac, whose corruption-tainted years he had promised to break with, his interrogation over suspected illegal financing of his 2007 election campaign was carried out by members of the French judicial corps known as investigating magistrates which he had, when president, attempted to disband. Michel Deléan reports.

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When Nicolas Sarkozy descended the central courthouse buildings in Bordeaux shortly after 9 a.m. on November 22nd, entering an underground office to be questioned by magistrates leading investigations into the wide-ranging corruption allegations surrounding the affairs of L’Oréal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, the former French president faced a humbling moment in more ways than one.