10 years on

Sarkozy on trial for alleged Libyan financing of his 2007 campaign?

By Damien Glez

Posted on May 16, 2023 14:59

 © By Damien Glez
By Damien Glez

While investigators have completed their inquiry into suspicions of Libyan financing of Nicolas Sarkozy’s first presidential campaign, the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office wants the former president to be tried.

The French political scene is buzzing with the rumour that Nicolas Sarkozy is dreaming of replacing an Elisabeth Borne, whom rumours speculate is “burnt out,” at Matignon after the forced passage of the pension reform.

If the former President of the Republic has trouble getting used to retirement, the judiciary is not hanging up its boots any more than he is. Emmanuel Macron is not unaware of the swords of Damocles hanging over the head of the putative prime ministerial candidate, such as the so-called “eavesdropping” case – a decision by the Paris Court of Appeal on 17 May – or the Bygmalion scandal, the appeal of which is due to be heard in November…

Bad habits

Another procedure reminds Sarko of his bad habits. In 2012, a few months after the death of Muammar Gaddafi, the investigative website Médiapart published a handwritten note attributed to the former head of Libyan foreign intelligence Moussa Koussa, suggesting that, one year before the 2007 French presidential election, the Gaddafi had promised the right-wing candidate €50m ($54m) for his campaign. Sarkozy later won the election and the Libyan pest was received in France, with great pomp and circumstance, during the first year of his lone presidential term.

After a 10-year investigation into Libya, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, and Malaysia, tens of thousands of pages of proceedings, and 13 indictments – those of Sarkozy in 2018 and 2020 – the final indictment of the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF) requested, on 10 May, Sarkozy’s referral to the criminal court, to be tried for “concealment of embezzlement of Libyan public funds, passive corruption, illegal financing of an electoral campaign, and criminal association with a view to committing an offence punishable by 10 years’ imprisonment.” Regarding the Médiapart document, the accused said: “Everyone knows that it is a fake.”

10 years on

Moving forward, 11 other defendants are expected to take the stand, including former French ministers Claude Guéant, Brice Hortefeux, and Eric Woerth; former senior French official Thierry Gaubert; Franco-Lebanese businessman Ziad Takieddine, and Franco-Algerian middleman Alexandre Djouhri.

This judicial case, now 10 years removed from the “Libyan Spring,” is being followed closely in Africa. In the north and south of the continent, some nostalgic supporters of the pan-Africanist leader consider his fall as a plot and the chaos of Libya as a contributing source of the security crisis in the Sahel.

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