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French Bar Council threatens legal action against Hollande over Sarkozy lawyer phone-tap

Nicolas Sarkozy, in Brussels, 2009.
Nicolas Sarkozy, in Brussels, 2009. Reuters/Yves Herman
3 min

The French Bar Council says it will take legal action against President François Hollande because the confidential lawyer-client relationship was breached when Sarkozy's phone conversations with his lawyer were tapped. 

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A statement from the Bar Council "affirms the solidarity of the 60,000 lawyers of France with M Thierry Herzog" (Sarkozy's lawyer whose phone was tapped). The communiqué continues with a call "to clarify urgently this worrying attack on the proper functioning of our democracy."

Hundreds of lawyers signed a petition criticising what they say is a breach of their professional confidentiality.

It is legal for a lawyer's phone to be tapped if he or she is suspected of being the author or accomplice to a criminal act.

The Bar Council say that in this instance Herzog's phone was tapped in the hope of gathering information about a completely separate investigation into allegations that Sarkozy received money from Libya's former dictator Moammer Ghadaffi.

Pierre-Olvier Sur, an examining magistrate said "Starting from the Libya dossier they went sniffing like hunting dogs left and right until they stumbled on something completely different months later....That is what disgusts us." 

Meanwhile the French news magazine, Le Point, reported on its website today that the judge at the centre of allegations arising from phone-tapped conversations between French former president Nicolas Sarkozy and his lawyer, tried to commit suicide on Sunday.

Azibert's son denied any suicide attempt, saying his father was taken to hospital after a fall. The Union of Magistrates confirmed the news but Alain Juppé, the Mayor of Bordeaux, where Azibert is based, denied the reports of attempted suicide.

Investigators suspect that Judge Gilbert Azibert, one of France’s most senior judges, gave Nicolas Sarkozy secret information about the progress of the Bettencourt case in which the former president was accused of obtaining money unfairly from the elderly billionairess Liliane Bettencourt.

The charges against Sarkozy were eventually dropped in October 2013.

It is alleged that in exchange Sarkozy would use his influence to arrange a comfortable job in Monaco for the Judge, who at 68 was nearing retirement.

The news that Sarkozy’s phone was tapped by investigators is the latest extraordinary turn in a series of political and legal dramas since Sarkozy was defeated in the May 2012 presidential election.

Sarkozy’s lawyer insists the allegations concerning judge Azibert are the latest in a series of politically-motivated attempts to prevent a Sarkozy comeback.

“There was no attempt to pervert the course of justice and in due course this monstrous violation will be shown to have been a political affair” Thierry Herzog told journalists.

 

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