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

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid