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Former French President Must Face Corruption Trial, Court Rules

The Address | Benghazi – Libya

Former President Nicolas Sarkozy of France on Wednesday lost his final attempt to avoid standing trial on charges of corruption and influence peddling, his lawyer said. He is accused of offering to help a judge earn a promotion in Monaco in return for leaked information.

According to The New York Times, The case arose after investigators tapped the phones of Mr. Sarkozy and his lawyer to examine allegations that Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, when he was the leader of Libya, funded Mr. Sarkozy’s successful campaign for the presidency in 2007.

Investigators began to suspect that Mr. Sarkozy had offered the judge, Gilbert Azibert, a promotion in return for information on developments in a parallel investigation. Mr. Sarkozy was cleared of the other allegations, which claimed he had accepted illicit payments for the same campaign from Liliane Bettencourt, a L’Oreal heiress.

Mr. Sarkozy was president from 2007 to 2012 before losing an election to François Hollande. He lost presidential immunity from legal prosecution a month after he left office and has since faced investigations into alleged corruption, fraud, favoritism and campaign-funding irregularities.

His lawyers have argued that magistrates looking into the alleged secret Libyan funding exceeded their powers by tapping Mr. Sarkozy’s conversations between September 2013 and March 2014, breaching lawyer-client privilege.

On Wednesday, Mr. Sarkozy’s defense team said the use of the wiretapped remarks contravened a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights.

“These legal issues are still relevant,” Jacqueline Laffont, a lawyer for Mr. Sarkozy, said. “It will be for the court to decide whether a French court can override a decision of the European Court of Human Rights.”

Wednesday’s ruling that the trial should proceed came from the Cour de Cassation, a court that decides whether an earlier decision by an appeals court conforms with French law.

The setback for Mr. Sarkozy comes a month after France’s Constitutional Council cleared the way for him to be tried over a case related to alleged illegal financing of his failed re-election campaign in 2012. Mr. Sarkozy has denied any wrongdoing.

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