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Ex-French President Sarkozy taken into police custody

Former French President and leader of the Les Republicains Party, Nicolas Sarkozy

Former President Nicolas Sarkozy was taken into police custody on Tuesday over alleged illegal financing of his 2007 presidential campaign, according to media reports.

Sarkozy was currently being heard by the judicial police in Nanterre, where he was summoned as part of an investigation into the possible illegal financing by the then Libyan regime of his 2007 presidential campaign, French daily Le Monde reported.

This is the first time Sarkozy is being heard in the probe that was launched five years ago. He can stay in police custody for up to 48 hours and could be presented afterward to the magistrates to be charged.

Judges Serge Tournaire and Aude Buresi had been working on the case involving the ex-president since April 2013 to determine if the 2007 presidential campaign of Sarkozy was the subject of illegal funding from Libya.

In June 2016, French judges ruled that a document claiming Sarkozy was offered 50 million euros ($56.8 million) as an election campaign donation by Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi was authentic.

Read: France contributes €200,000 to Libya’s electoral fund

The document, first revealed by investigative French news site Mediapart in 2012, allegedly showed Sarkozy made the deal with Gaddafi for his 2007 presidential election campaign, in which he defeated the Socialist Party’s Segolene Royal.

French daily Le Monde in 2016 published in three successive publications “the existence of a vast criminal system, involving senior officials linked to Sarkozy.

“This network, dedicated to the protection of the former head of state, is composed of police officers or magistrates who remained loyal to the former president, but also businessmen, intermediaries, diplomats and even journalists,” the daily said.

This organized network had allegedly been set up after the arrival of Sarkozy at the Interior Ministry in 2002, which strengthened further after he entered the presidential Elysee Palace in 2007.

Separately, prosecutors recommended in September 2016 that Sarkozy and 13 others stand trial over an alleged multi-million-euro fraud related to the illegal financing of his 2012 presidential election campaign.

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