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Sarkozy says diary shows he did not take illegal donations

former French president Nicolas Sarkozy is seeking to avert charges of accepting illegal campaign donations by sending judges his diary for the weeks before his 2007 election.

The right-winger lost the immunity from prosecution his presidential status had conferred on Friday.

Mr Sarkozy insists the diary proves it was not "materially possible" for him to have picked up envelopes of money from the L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt and her husband Andre.

Ex-employees of the Bettencourts, including a former chauffeur, nurse and butler, have told a judge that Mr Sarkozy turned up at the billionaires' home at least twice before his election in 2007.

Mr Sarkozy's lawyer Thierry Herzog has leaked a letter to 'Le Journal du Dimanche' outlining why any "secret rendezvous" to receive illicit funding could not have taken place.

There is only one mention of a meeting between Mr Sarkozy and the Bettencourts in the diary, which shows he paid a visit on February 24, 2007.

Mr Herzog claimed this was a "courtesy call" that lasted 20 to 25 minutes, and that the diary showed it was impossible for Mr Sarkozy to have been present on other dates mentioned by staff.

Until now, the buck in the Bettencourt affair has stopped at Eric Woerth, the former labour minister and Mr Sarkozy's former party treasurer, who faces charges of receiving cash payments. He denies any wrongdoing. (©Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent