Nicolás Sarkozy is charged with bribery of witnesses and procedural fraud

Nicolás Sarkozy

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy was charged this Friday as part of an investigation for possible witness tampering, in a new case against him in a long list, including the illegal financing of his campaign.

After 30 hours of interrogation in four days, the judges charged Sarkozy with covering up bribery of witnesses and association of criminals to prepare a procedural fraud in an organized gang, a judicial source told AFP.

The case against the 68-year-old former president, who remains an influential figure on the French right, relates to allegations that he received money from the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi to finance one of his election campaigns.

The trial of Libyan financing of his 2007 campaign is scheduled for early 2025, but before that he will be tried in November on appeal for illegal financing of the 2012 campaign, which he lost to the socialist François Hollande.

The new case is added to the list of court appointments

The judges are interested in the change of testimony of a key witness, the Franco-Lebanese businessman Ziad Takieddine, who claimed to have handed over five million euros (about $5.3 million at the current exchange rate) in cash in 2006 and 2007.

But in 2020 he suddenly recanted, raising suspicions that Sarkozy may have pressured the witness to change his mind.

At least nine other people are suspects in this case, among them Mimi Marchand, considered the queen of the paparazzi in France and close to the current president, Emmanuel Macron, and his wife Brigitte.

The former conservative president from 2007 to 2012 was also convicted in the first instance and on appeal of corruption and influence peddling, in a case about attempting to influence a judge.

Sarkozy’s lawyers, who usually appeals convictions, indicated in a statement to AFP that their client will “defend his honor” also in this latest case.