Corruption case embroiling Nicolas Sarkozy becomes full-blown scandal

Reuters/Eric Gaillard

After investigative news website Mediapart published on Wednesday what it said were extracts from tapped phone conversations between Sarkozy and his lawyer, who at one point refers to two top judges as "bastards", the case questions whether the former president's political career is over.


Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy is at the centre of fresh investigations after evidence emerged of an alleged attempt to influence judges involved in a corruption case.

The investigative news site Mediapart published what it said were tapped phone conversations between Sarkozy and his lawyer Thierry Herzog.

The exchanges appear to confirm reports that the former president received tip-offs from a friendly judge about the progress of a case related to an election-financing scandal.

But Sarkozy's allies slammed what they described as blatant violation of the principles of judicial secrecy and the presumption of innocence.

"I filed a legal complaint for violation of judicial investigations" Herzog told Europe 1 radio on Thursday, "I asked for an investigation to identify the perpetrators, who gave truncated reports to Mediapart."

Sarkozy's political opponents in the ruling Socialist government called on the justice system to continue its work.

"The accusations against the former president are extremely serious that it's time for gossip to stop, and for the truth to emerge", said Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, the government spokesperson. "No one can be happy about revelations that are so toxic and damaging for democracy. The sole source of satisfaction and hope, is that today, truth and transparency are possible, and even inevitable."

Other recordings suggest Sarkozy had a well-placed mole supplying him information about a separate probe into whether he also received funds from disposed Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morning