Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy to face trial over campaign financing

Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy | Ian Langsdon  AFP via Getty Images

Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy | Ian Langsdon AFP via Getty Images

Earlier on Thursday, Le Monde newspaper reported that the French court had signed a document to send the former president to the Paris correctional court within the framework of the investigation process.

Sarkozy's lawyers had previously argued that magistrates investigating the alleged secret Libyan funding exceeded their powers and went on a "fishing expedition"? by tapping his conversations with them between September 2013 and March 2014, breaching lawyer-client privilege.

"Nicolas Sarkozy will. calmly wait for the result of the motion for a declaration of invalidity".

The case came about after investigators used phone-taps to examine separate allegations that late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi funded Sarkozy's campaign and began to suspect he had kept tabs on a separate case through a network of informants.

In a separate case, the ex-president is accused of receiving funding from late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. Mr Sarkozy again denies any wrongdoing.

A former minister and close ally of Sarkozy, Brice Hortefeux, was also being questioned by police in relation to the Libya investigation, another source close to the probe said.

Sarkozy, 63, will now attempt to appeal the trial summons, his lawyers announced on Thursday in a statement.

Mr Sarkozy is alleged to have accepted €50m (£43.8m) from Gaddafi's regime, claims which have been repeated by the dictator's son and French businessman Ziad Takieddine. The charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years, and the influence peddling charge has a maximum sentence of five years.

The case is known in France as the Bygmalion affair, after the name of the firm that allegedly provided false invoices to Mr Sarkozy's party rather than the campaign. As president, he would have been covered by immunity from prosecution for the length of his term.

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