Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy will be tried in 2025 over allegations he took money from late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to fund one of his election campaigns, prosecutors say.
The trial, which prosecutors announced on Friday, is to hear evidence that Sarkozy, along with 12 co-defendants, conspired to take cash from the Libyan leader to illegally fund his victorious 2007 bid for the presidency.
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Sarkozy, who has faced a litany of legal problems since his one term in office, has denied the Libyan allegations – the most serious he faces.
The 68-year-old has already been convicted twice, once for corruption and influence-peddling involving attempts to influence a judge and another for breaking campaign spending limits during his 2012 re-election attempt.
Sarkozy has appealed against both judgements.
Among the others facing trial over the alleged Libyan corruption are heavyweights such as Sarkozy’s former right-hand man Claude Gueant, his then-head of campaign financing Eric Woerth and former Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux.
The investigation was sparked by revelations from the investigative website Mediapart, which published a document purporting to show that Gaddafi had agreed to give Sarkozy up to 50 million euros ($54m at current rates).
The two leaders enjoyed surprisingly cordial ties with Sarkozy letting the Libyan strongman pitch his Bedouin tent opposite the Elysee Palace on a state visit to France just months after his election.
Sarkozy has been back in the news in recent weeks in France after publishing the second volume of his memoirs and suggesting that areas of Ukraine occupied by Russia after Moscow’s full-scale invasion last year might need to be recognised as Russian.
He also said the annexed peninsula of Crimea would remain Russian and that “any return to the way things were before is an illusion”.
Sarkozy took a lead role in negotiating Russia’s partial withdrawal from Georgia after Moscow’s invasion there in 2008.
Sarkozy faces a separate investigation into potential influence peddling after he received a payment from the Russian insurance firm Reso-Garantia of 3 million euros ($3.2m) in 2019 while working as a consultant.