Corruption charges against Sarkozy dropped in L'Oréal heiress case
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Corruption charges against former French president Nicolas Sarkozy linked to the funding of his successful 2007 election campaign have been dropped.
Sarkozy had been charged in March with accepting funds from France's richest woman, L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, when she was allegedly too frail to know what she was doing.
The decision to drop the charges could clear the way for Sarkozy to return to frontline politics in time for the 2017 presidential election.
The charges against him were founded on a medical report which stated that Bettencourt, now 90, had suffered from dementia since at least 2006.
Sarkozy's lawyers had challenged the validity of the medical evidence on a procedural point, arguing that the legal-medical expert who wrote the report was a close friend of one of the examining magistrates in charge of the case, and therefore not neutral.
That challenge failed but the charges have now been dropped anyway.
Public prosecutors had already recommended dropping the charges against Sarkozy and 5 others charged in the case, but the examining magistrates chose to continue, triggering accusations that they were politically motivated.
Ten other people are still being investigated in the case.
Separately, Sarkozy is still being investigated over allegations that he accepted up to 50 million euros in cash from former Libyan dictator Moamer Kadhafi for the 2007 campaign.