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Ex-French president Sarkozy denounces corruption charges as "calumny"

Xinhua | Updated: 2018-03-22 23:49

PARIS - Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Wednesday that accusations he received Libyan funding for his 2007 election campaign were a "calumny" that had no evidence, Le Figaro newspaper reported Thursday.

"I am accused without any material evidence," the paper cited Sarkozy as telling magistrates who put him under investigation.

Late on Wednesday, a panel of French judges decided to place the 63-year-old former president under formal investigation for allegedly accepting bribes and illegal campaign financing from Libya.

Sarkozy, who served as president of France from May 2007 to May 2012, was also placed under judicial control.

A judicial inquiry was opened as early as in April 2013 into the suspected irregularities in the former president's campaign funding after investigative online journal Mediapart unveiled that Libya had offered money to finance his campaign.

In 2016, French-Lebanese businessman Ziad Takieddine revealed to Mediapart that he had delivered three suitcases containing 5 million euros ($6.18 million) in cash from then Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to Sarkozy, as well as to Sarkozy's former chief of staff and campaign director Claude Gueant between 2006 and 2007.

Takieddine said he had given a written deposition to judges on Nov 12, 2016, detailing the cash handovers and his meetings with them.

In a court statement, Sarkozy said that the accusations are a manipulation of Gaddafi or his gang.

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