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FRANCE

Top French court allows Sarkozy phone-taps to be used in graft case

Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy
Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy Reuters/Jacky Naegelen

France's highest court on Tuesday ruled that wiretaps of conversations can be used in a corruption case against former president Nicolas Sarkozy, dealing a possible blow to his hopes to run for reelection. The ruling leaves investigating magistrates free to decide whether to take the case against Sarkozy to trial.

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An insane procedure is going to follow now," Sarkozy's lawyer Patrice Spinosi declared after the ruling.

Sarkozy, 61, who was president between 2007 and 2012, became France's first former head of state to be taken into custody for questioning when he was charged with corruption, influence-peddling and violation of legal secrecy in July 2014.

He is accused of conspiring with his lawyer to give a magistrate a job in exchange for inside information on another corruption probe against him.

Investigators looking into allegations that former Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi's regime helped finance his 2007 election campaign, started tapping Sarkozy's phones in April 2013.

His lawyers argued the phone-taps were a breach of lawyer-client confidentiality and appealed against a ruling last May that they could be used.

The former president, who hopes to be the candidate of the right-wing Republicans in 2017's presidential election, has faced several other investigations, mainly relating to campign finance.

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