News / Europe

    French Ex-President Investigated in Corruption Probe

    Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy leaves his residence in Paris, July 2, 2014.
    Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy leaves his residence in Paris, July 2, 2014.
    Lisa Bryant

    Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy is under formal investigation in a tangled corruption inquiry that risks derailing his widely anticipated political comeback. 

    Ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy returned home Wednesday with the news he was under formal investigation, after spending an unprecedented 15 hours in police custody outside Paris.  

    Magistrates are looking into whether Sarkozy used his influence to interfere with a probe into alleged irregularities involving his 2007 election campaign.  His lawyer and a high ranking judge are also under investigation.

    Interviewed on France's BFM television, Prime Minister Manuel Valls described the situation as serious.  He called for judicial independence and said nobody was above the law, but also that the presumption of innocence should be upheld.

    The probe is the latest in a series of corruption scandals dogging Sarkozy.  This latest inquiry is linked to an investigation into whether he received illegal funding from former Libyan leader Moammar Gahdafi for his successful 2007 presidential campaign.  Magistrates are examining whether he tried to obtain inside information into the probe.

    Sarkozy is not the first French president to face corruption allegations.  His predecessor, former conservative leader Jacques Chirac, was handed a suspended sentence in 2011, after being convicted of embezzlement and misusing public funds when he was Paris mayor.

    Sarkozy was also under formal investigation last year, but magistrates dropped that probe.

    The latest inquiry comes at a particularly delicate time.  Sarkozy has been widely expected to be eyeing a political comeback, after losing his 2012 reelection bid to Socialist, now president, Francois Hollande.  Today, says analyst Philippe Moreau Defarges, of the Paris-based French Institute for International Relations, the conservative leader is politically wounded.

    "It will be very difficult for him to make a true comeback into the political arena.  And it is clear that what is happening to Mr. Sarkozy makes Mr. Hollande happy, but also Mr. Juppe [conservative rival and former prime minister Alain Juppe] and other people of the right very happy ... because it is clear that many people in France do not want the comeback of Mr. Sarkozy," he said.
     
    Sarkozy has vehemently denied all allegations of misconduct, suggesting they are politically motivated.

    Wednesday, supporters like Nice Mayor Christian Estrosi from Sarkozy's conservative UMP party rallied behind him.

    Speaking on French radio, Estrosi questioned the impartiality of at least one of the judges probing the allegations, and accused the Socialist government of sowing hatred in the country.

    The probe is likely to further deepen public disenchantment in their elected officials.  President Hollande is deeply unpopular, French are worried about joblessness and the sluggish economy and the far-right National Front Party surged in May elections for the European Parliament.

    You May Like

    US, Allies Discuss Next Steps in Islamic State Fight

    Meeting comes a day after US Navy SEAL was killed while fighting Islamic State forces in northern Iraq

    In China, Traditional Banks Fight Challenge From Internet Firms

    Internet companies lent more than $150 billion to customers in 2015, which is an extremely small amount compared to the much larger lending by commercial banks last year

    Trump Faces Tough Presidential Odds Against Clinton

    Numerous national election surveys show former secretary of state defeating presumptive Republican nominee with tough talk to halt illegal immigration and temporarily block Muslims from entering country

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limitedi
    X
    Katie Arnold
    May 04, 2016 12:31 PM
    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora