Ex-president Sarkozy held in Libya financing probe

Paris: French ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy was detained for questioning on Tuesday over allegations that late Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi financed his 2007 election campaign, including with suitcases stuffed with cash, a source close to the inquiry said.
Sarkozy was taken into police custody early on Tuesday morning and was being questioned by officers specialising in corruption, money laundering and tax evasion at their office in the western Parisian suburb of Nanterre.
The 63-year-old had until now refused to respond to a summons for questioning in France’s most explosive political financing scandal, one of several legal probes that have dogged the right-winger since he left office after one term in 2012.
Sarkozy’s detention was first reported by the Mediapart investigative news site and French daily Le Monde.
AFP’s source said that Brice Hortefeux, a close ally who served as a senior minister during Sarkozy’s presidency, was also questioned on Tuesday as part of the inquiry.
Since 2013, investigating magistrates have been probing media reports, as well as statements by Gaddafi’s son Seif al Islam, that claimed funds were provided for Sarkozy’s first tilt at the presidency.
“Sarkozy must first give back the money he took from Libya to finance his electoral campaign,” Seif told the Euronews network in 2011 as Nato-backed forces were driving his father out of power.
Sarkozy has dismissed the allegations as the rantings of vindictive Libyan government members who were furious over France’s military intervention in Libya that helped end Gaddafi’s 41-year rule and led to his death.
He has also sued Mediapart, which has driven media coverage of the Libyan allegations since 2012 when it published a document allegedly signed by Libya’s intelligence chief showing that Gaddafi had agreed to fund Sarkozy to the tune of 50 million euros ($62 million). — AFP