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Wednesday 20 August 2014

Sarkozy held in corruption probe

Published 01/07/2014 | 09:47

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Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy is reportedly being questioned in an investigation into financing for his 2007 presidential campaign

Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy has been detained and is reportedly being questioned by financial investigators in a corruption investigation.

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A French judicial official said today that Mr Sarkozy is in custody in the Paris suburb of Nanterre.

French media reports said Mr Sarkozy is being questioned in an investigation into financing for his 2007 presidential campaign.

The case centres around whether Mr Sarkozy and his lawyer were kept informed of insider information on the investigation by a friendly magistrate.

The ex-president and his lawyer have denied wrongdoing.

Mr Sarkozy is considering a political comeback after his 2012 defeat by President Francois Hollande.

Mr Sarkozy's lawyer, Thierry Herzog, is also being held for questioning, according to French news reports.

Investigators are basing suspicions at least in part on tapped phone conversations that the former president has denounced and compared to secret police actions in the old East Germany.

Allies from his conservative UMP party - which has been in leadership crisis because of questions over spending during Sarkozy's 2012 presidential campaign - jumped to the former president's defence.

"They have never imposed such treatment on a former president, with such a surge of hate," lawmaker Christian Estrosi said on Twitter.

Former French president Jacques Chirac was convicted in a corruption investigation in 2011, after he left office, but when he was questioned in the case he was not held in police custody.

The Socialist government has tried to stay above the fray over Mr Sarkozy.

Government spokesman Stephane Le Foll told i-Tele: "Justice officials are investigating, they should carry out the task to the end. Nicolas Sarkozy is a citizen answerable to justice like any other."

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