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20 Mar 2018

BREAKING NEWS: Former President Arrested Over Campaign Financing

Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy is being held by police in connection to alleged campaign funding from late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

Mr Sarkozy is being questioned as part of an investigation into "irregularities" in election campaign financing, a French court source told Reuters.

He is said to have accepted €50m from Muammar Gaddafi's regime, claims which have been repeated by the late Libyan dictator's son and French businessman Ziad Takieddine.

The amount would be more than double the legal spending limit in French elections at that time, which was €21m.

Alleged payments would also violate French laws on foreign financing and declaring the source of campaign funds.

Mr Sarkozy and his campaign manager have repeatedly denied accepting money from Libya.

According to Le Monde, this is the first time Mr Sarkozy has been questioned in relation to this investigation, which was opened in April 2013.

He can be held for up to 48 hours and presented to a magistrates' court for indictment if police seek charges.

Mr Sarkozy has already been ordered to stand trial in a separate case, concerning the financing of his 2012 re-election campaign, when he lost to Francois Hollande.

In March 2011, Saif al Islam Gaddafi, the late dictator's son, told Euronews: "Sarkozy has to give back the money he accepted from Libya to finance his electoral campaign. We financed his campaign and we have the proof…

"The first thing we're demanding is that this clown gives back the money to the Libyan people."

Mr Takieddine claims he delivered three suitcases stuffed with cash to Paris between 2006 and 2007, and handed them over to Mr Sarkozy in the interior ministry when he was a minister.

Mr Sarkozy was president of France from 2007 until 2012.

He attempted to stage a comeback for the 2017 election, but failed to convince the voters in his own party to support him and had to concede to Francois Fillon and Alain Juppe.

Mr Sarkozy faced accusations of exploiting L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, taking advantage of her "mental fragility" to seek a donation to his political party for the 2007 election, but the case against him was dropped.

He had a fraught relationship with Colonel Gaddafi during his presidency. He welcomed the Libyan dictator to Paris early on in his tenure but then put France at the forefront of Nato-led air strikes that helped topple his regime in 2011.

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