When Nicolas Sarkozy was being questioned by judges over claims that his 2007 president election campaign was part-funded by the Libyan regime, he agreed to hand over his official diaries from that period. However, Mediapart understands that his lawyer has now told the judges that the former president is unable to provide any of them. This sudden about-face comes right in the middle of Nicolas Sarkozy's ongoing corruption trial, in which those very same diaries play a prominent role. Fabrice Arfi and Karl Laske report.
The high-profile trial of Nicolas Sarkozy, in which he is accused of trying to use his influence to find out confidential judicial information, is finally under way in Paris. But the case, the first in which a former French president has faced corruption charges, has been beset by a string of disruptions and by sometimes confusing legal disputes. The result so far, says Mediapart's legal affairs correspondent Michel Deléan, is a trial that has not yet done justice to the issues that are at stake.
The trial in Paris of former French president Nicolas Sarkozy for allegedly trying to bribe a magistrate in return for information about an investigation into his party finances was suspended shortly after it opened on Wednesday to allow a medical examination of one of the two other defendants.
Ziad Takieddine, the ruined businessman who is on the run after being convicted in a separate political corruption case in France, has told Paris Match magazine and BFM-TV news channel that there was “no Libyan funding” of Nicolas Sarkozy's 2007 presidential campaign. This contradicts what he has previously told a judicial investigation into the affair and various media. But he maintains that he did hand over cash to Sarkozy's former chief of staff Claude Guéant. The former president himself immediately made clear his delight at Takieddine's retraction. Just a few days ago Sarkozy had described the middleman as a “madman” and a “manipulator”. Fabrice Arfi and Karl Laske report.
Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy was subjected to four days of questioning earlier this month by judges leading a complex investigation into evidence of Libyan funding of his 2007 election campaign, at the end of which he was formally placed under investigation for “criminal conspiracy”. Mediapart has obtained access to the transcripts of the interrogation, during which he insisted on his innocence and laid responsibility for any wrongdoing on his two longstanding, loyal right-hand men, Claude Guéant and Brice Hortefeux, describing their dealings with Libya and intermediaries as, variously, “incomprehensible”, an “error” and a “mistake”. Fabrice Arfi and Karl Laske report.
The decision by judges to place the former president under formal investigation – one step short of charges being brought – relates to claims that his 2007 presidential campaign was financed in part by the Libyan regime of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. In 2018 Sarkozy was placed under formal investigation in relation to the same inquiry for “illicit funding of an electoral campaign”, “receiving and embezzling public funds” and “passive corruption”. This new move by investigating judges means that for the first time a former head of state in France formally faces claims of “criminal conspiracy”. The ex-president denies any wrongdoing. Fabrice Arfi and Karl Laske report on the latest developments in the long-running investigation.
An anti-corruption activist has lodged a formal complaint against France's new justice minister Éric Dupond-Moretti, accusing the latter of an unlawful conflict of interest. The complaint has been made to the Cour de Justice de la République, a special court which deals with allegations of unlawful actions by ministers in the course of their official duties. The move follows a call by the justice minister for three prosecutors from the country's financial crimes prosecution unit to face disciplinary action. This is despite the fact that just a few weeks ago Dupond-Moretti, then a barrister, had made a formal complaint against those very same prosecutors. Fabrice Arfi and Michel Deléan report
In 2014 prosecutors from France's financial crimes prosecution unit the Parquet National Financier (PNF) wanted to discover the identity of the 'mole' inside the legal world who had tipped off Nicolas Sarkozy that his phones were being tapped as part of what became known as the 'Bismuth' affair. When details of this hunt were revealed by Le Point magazine it caused an outcry among many top lawyers - including defence lawyer Éric Dupond-Moretti who is now the minister of justice - and an investigation was launched into the actions of the PNF. At the time, many in the former president's entourage felt the revelations proved there was a sustained attempt to discredit him. But the Ministry's of Justice's inspectorate which investigated the affair has just reported, and finds that the PNF's actions were legal and proper. As Fabrice Arfi and Michel Deléan report, the report's verdict will be seen as a setback for the ex-head of state
Former French president appeared to reference controversial the Agatha Christie novel now known as 'And Then There Were None' on TV show in discussion about whether he was allowed to use the word 'monkey'.
Mediapart is publishing a series of recordings of police phone taps involving the former head of France's domestic intelligence agency, Bernard Squarcini. These extraordinary tapes, which date from 2013, reveal the de facto existence of a state within a state, where private and public interests became intertwined. The first series of judicially-approved recordings reveal how after leaving his intelligence post Squarcini, nicknamed 'La Squale' ('The Shark'), was asked by the French luxury goods group LVMH to “infiltrate” an independent magazine in order to spy on it. Neither Squarcini nor LVMH wanted to comment on the content of the tapes. Fabrice Arfi and Pascale Pascariello report.
France holds nationwide local elections beginning next weekend, in the most significant test of the country’s political parties since Emmanuel Macron’s election as president in 2017 and the thumping victory of his LREM party in ensuing parliamentary elections. In the two-round polling, the prize catch will be Paris, where the conservative Les Républicains hope to wrestle power from socialist mayor Anne Hidalgo. Their candidate, Rachida Dati, held her last campaign meeting this week when her political mentor, Nicolas Sarkozy, made a rare public appearance. Despite being under investigation in several serious corruption probes, the former French president, surrounded by his old guard, received a rock-star reception from an enraptured audience. Lucie Delaporte witnessed the extraordinary scenes.
In January 2020 Thierry Gaubert, a former close aide to Nicolas Sarkozy, was arrested and then placed under formal investigation for “criminal conspiracy” in relation to claims that the former president's 2007 election campaign was funded with Libyan money. Gaubert is now free on bail, but banned from meeting with either Sarkozy or the ex-head of state's long-standing friend and ally Brice Hortefeux. As Fabrice Arfi and Karl Laske report, this move marks a major turning point in the long-running judge-led investigation.
One of the key suspects in the marathon judicial probe into alleged funding of former French president Nicolas Sarkozy’s 2007 election campaign by the regime of late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi was this weekend placed in preventive detention in France after losing a two-year legal battle to avoid his extradition from Britain. French judges have formally placed Alexandre Djouhri under investigation for nine alleged offences, including “active corruption”, aiding and abetting, and receiving, the proceeds of the “misappropriation of public funds”, “money laundering the proceeds of corruption”, “forgery and the use of forgeries” and “tax fraud”. Fabrice Arfi and Karl Laske report.