Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy was being held today for questioning over suspected influence-peddling, a legal source said. Photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times
Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy was held today for questioning over suspicions that a network of informers kept him abreast of a separate inquiry into alleged irregularities in his 2007 election campaign, a legal source said.
It was the first time a former head of state had been held for questioning in modern French history. The conservative politician denies wrongdoing in a string of investigations which could derail his hopes of a come-back after his 2012 presidential election defeat by Francois Hollande.
Mr Sarkozy arrived early today to be questioned by investigators at their offices in Nanterre, west of Paris, after his lawyer was held for questioning yesterday.
Asked about the matter, French government spokesman Stephane Le Foll said Mr Sarkozy was “subject to justice just like everyone else.” “Justice authorities are investigating and have to go all the way,” he said.
The former leader is the focus of an investigation launched in February into whether he sought to use his influence to get information about a separate inquiry into allegations that late Libyan leader Muammar Gadafy funded his 2007 election campaign.
Investigators suspect Mr Sarkozy and his lawyer kept tabs on the case by using a network of well-connected informants, which only came to light following phone taps. Mr Sarkozy has likened the magistrates behind the phone-tapping to the “Stasi” police of former Communist East Germany.
Two legal officers with prosecutor roles, Gilbert Azibert and Patrick Sassoust, are also being held for questioning. Investigators suspect Mr Sarkozy had sought to get Mr Azibert a promotion to Monaco in exchange for information.
The case is one of six legal investigations involving Mr Sarkozy, including a new one this year into separate irregularities in his unsuccessful 2012 election campaign.
Left-wing judges are out to humiliate me, says former French president Nicolas Sarkozy as he is charged with corruption and influence peddling after 15 hours of questioning