French court puts former president Sarkozy on trial for corruption, influence peddling

Sarkozy also faces a third set of charges, this time targeting his 2007 successful bid for France's presidency, over accusations that his campaign was financed illegally in part by the government of now-dead Libyan dictator Col. Muammar Qaddafi. He's accused of securing leaked details of a probe into the alleged illicit funding of the presidential campaign.

Lawyers for Sarkozy said in a statement that they will appeal the decision to take him to court.

Sarkozy was president from 2007 to 2012 but was defeated by Socialist François Hollande when he ran for re-election.

The Libya probe is still ongoing, and Sarkozy was placed under formal investigation last week for allegedly accepting bribes and illegal campaign funds from Gadhafi's regime.

Sarkozy is suspected of attempting to obtain secret information in 2014 via his lawyer Thierry Herzog from a prosecutor about the status of an investigation into campaign financing. He has since faced a series of investigations into alleged corruption, fraud, favouritism and campaign funding irregularities.

That investigation, into accusations that Sarkozy's former party treasurer Eric Woerth and others exploited the mental frailty of France's richest woman, Liliane Bettencourt, to extract political donations, was dropped without charges.

A judicial source with direct knowledge of the case told the Associated Press that Sarkozy was being held at the Nanterre police station, northwest of Paris.

In the Mediapart interview, Takieddine said that he was given 5 million euros in Tripoli by Kadafi's intelligence chief in late 2006 and 2007 and that he gave the money to Sarkozy and Gueant in suitcases on three occasions. That made the now ailing Chirac the first French head of state convicted since Nazi collaborator Marshal Philippe Petain in 1945.

  • Rogelio Becker