Emmanuel Dunand Agence France-Presse Nicolas Sarkozy, during an interview given to TF1, on August 23
Guillaume Daudin – Agence France-Presse and Julia Pavesi – Agence France-Presse in Paris
Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy was indicted on Friday as part of an investigation into possible fraudulent maneuvers aimed at exonerating him from suspicions of Libyan financing of his 2007 presidential campaign.
The former leader of the State (2007-2012), arrived by car around 9:40 a.m. local time at the Paris judicial court, was indicted (charged) for concealment of witness tampering and criminal association with a view to preparing fraud to the judgment in an organized gang, a judicial source told AFP.
This decision opens the way to a possible new trial for this major figure of the French right.
It was taken after around thirty hours of interrogation in total over three and a half days, led by two financial magistrates responsible for this judicial investigation opened in May 2021 on this operation, called “Saving Sarkozy” by one of the accused.
By this indictment, the judges mean that they believe they have sufficient serious or consistent evidence as to his participation in the maneuvers developed by at least nine other protagonists involved to varying degrees and times, possibly by giving them his approval.
The first step of the operation would have consisted of obtaining the retraction of the accusations against Nicolas Sarkozy from the sulphurous Franco-Lebanese intermediary Ziad Takieddine, at the end of 2020, in exchange for possible remuneration.
< p>Then, in the first half of 2021, some of those accused would have tried to obtain proof that the resounding Libyan document published between the two rounds of the 2012 presidential election by the French investigative site Mediapart and mentioning financing of 50 million euros was a fake.
According to the judicial source, Mr. Sarkozy was also placed under the status of assisted witness for the offense of participation in a criminal association with a view to committing the offense of active corruption of foreign judicial personnel in Lebanon.
Certain protagonists of this operation are in fact suspected of having tried to bribe Lebanese magistrates so that they would release a Gaddafi son detained in this country, so that the family of the late Libyan dictator would facilitate the exoneration of Mr. Sarkozy.
For investigators, according to recently established figures, at least 608,000 euros (CA$880,000) could have been used for the entire operation, the fraudulent content of which the protagonists dispute.< /p>
Heard in June by investigators specializing in financial affairs, the ex-president certainly said he had been informed by one of the suspects — “Mimi” Marchand, a figure in the people press in France — in October 2020, a month before the information became public, of Mr. Takieddine's wish to change his version.
But according to his hearings revealed by the French daily Libération< /i>and consulted by AFP, Mr. Sarkozy assured that “the very idea that I could push directly or indirectly for the financing of nickel-plated feet is a crazy idea.”
“No concrete material element, of telephone, cannot incriminate me in this madness, neither closely, nor from afar”, assured the former head of state.
Long questioned about his agenda and his late telephony 2020 and early 2021, which suggest meetings or conversations at key moments with protagonists in the case, Mr. Sarkozy mentioned some “coincidences”, but denied any significant contact.
For him , “this whole little gang has only the sole concern of showing off each other” by claiming to be in contact with him.
This decision by the magistrates adds to the already heavy judicial agenda in charge of Mr. Sarkozy. In addition to the trial over Libyan financing of his 2007 campaign, scheduled for early 2025, he will be tried next November on appeal for the illegal financing of his lost 2012 presidential campaign.