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Court orders suspension of Sarkozy corruption investigation

Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy
Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy Reuters/Eric Gaillard

A French judge has ordered the suspension of one of the seven legal investigations into former president Nicolas Sarkozy, who announced his return to active politics this weekend.

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The Paris appeal court ordered magistrates to halt their inquiry into allegations concerning Sarkozy, his lawyer Thierry Herzog and a former appeal court attorney general, Gilbert Azibert until the defendants’ bid to have the charges dropped has been examined.

Background reading: Previous French scandals

The charges against Sarkozy still stand but the inquiry is now on hold until the beginning of next year at the earliest.

He is accused of abuse of influence, corruption and profiting from breaches of professional secrecy in a case that came to light when investigators tapped his and his lawyer’s mobile phones.

They found that the pair seemed to have inside knowledge of the progress of another case involving allegations that Sarkozy’s 2007 presidential campaign received finance from Libya when it was ruled by Moamer Kadhafi.

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Herzog is accused of violation of professional secrets and Azibert is suspected of passing information to the him, allegedly in return for Sarkozy’s help in obtaining a prestigious job in Monaco.

The Paris appeal court was not legally obliged to make its ruling and it has only ordered 12 such suspensions since 2007.

Sarkozy on Friday announced that he was returning to active politics and seeking the leadership of his party, the mainstream-right UMP, a move widely interpreted to mean he intends to stand in the presidential election in 2017.

He still has six other cases pending against him, although the suspended one is possibly the most potentially damaging.

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