Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

DEBATE

Clone of Pakistan Protests: Democracy put the test (Part Two)

Read more

DEBATE

Pakistan Protests: Democracy put the test (Part One)

Read more

ENCORE!

The French Maestro of Soul

Read more

FOCUS

US tobacco giants want lion's share of e-cigarette business

Read more

ENCORE!

Bold and bonkers: Kate Bush is back on stage

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Simon Serfaty, US foreign policy specialist

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'It's a War, Stupid!'

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

French PM calls on ECB to go further to help economy

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'I love the Socialists'

Read more

  • UN backs inquiry of IS group’s alleged crimes in Iraq

    Read more

  • French education ministry picture sparks racist abuse

    Read more

  • US urges Israel to reverse West Bank land seizure

    Read more

  • Lesotho PM calls for regional peacekeeping force after ‘coup’

    Read more

  • Ukrainian forces retreat from Luhansk airport after clashes

    Read more

  • Teddy Riner, France’s unstoppable judo champion

    Read more

  • Death toll rises in Paris apartment building blast

    Read more

  • Iraqi forces free Amerli in biggest victory over IS militants since June

    Read more

  • French police arrest hungry hedgehog hunters

    Read more

  • Tripoli under control of militias, says government

    Read more

  • Monaco’s Falcao set for Man Utd loan on transfer deadline day

    Read more

  • Spain orders custody for parents of ill British boy

    Read more

  • Anti-government protesters storm Pakistan's state TV

    Read more

  • Putin calls for talks on 'statehood' for east Ukraine

    Read more

  • Poland marks 75 years since German invasion of WWII

    Read more

  • Web doc on French self-immolation protests takes top prize

    Read more

France

Police probe former interior minister over phone leak

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-09-30

French police questioned former interior minister Brice Hortefeux (photo) Friday, following a phone call he made to warn a friend who is a suspect in a campaign financing scandal.

AFP - French police questioned a senior adviser to President Nicolas Sarkozy, Brice Hortefeux, on Friday after he called a suspect in a campaign financing scandal to warn him his wife was talking too much.

"Brice Hortefeux was questioned this morning by judicial authorities, at his own request, as a witness," after the call to Thierry Gaubert was revealed, Hortefeux said in a statement, telling AFP later that he was "relieved".

Hortefeux, France's former interior minister and now Sarkozy's key political lieutenant, was questioned for three hours then released without charge.

Gaubert, another close aide to Sarkozy during a period before he became president, is accused of going to Switzerland to pick up cases of cash to finance Edouard Balladur's unsuccessful 1995 presidential election campaign.

In 1995, Sarkozy was the campaign spokesman for his mentor Balladur, as well as his budget minister, and the complex case is one of several now threatening to derail the unpopular president's 2012 re-election bid.

It is alleged the Swiss money was kickbacks from arms sales to Pakistan, and that a 2002 Karachi bombing that killed 11 French engineers was revenge for the cancellation of bribes secretly promised to Pakistani officials.

Hortefeux's call came after Gaubert's estranged wife, Princess Helene of Yugoslavia, made a statement to investigators alleging that her husband had made several trips to Switzerland to get cash in the 1990s.

Hortefeux is accused of breaching the confidentiality of a judicial investigation, of which he somehow had inside knowledge.

But Hortefeux said of his interview with police that he "was able to clarify and demonstrate in all transparency that he knew nothing of the contents of the judicial investigation."

In his phone call to his friend four days after the princess spoke, Hortefeux had said: "She's giving up a lot, apparently, Helene," according to a transcript of the call, which was intercepted by investigators and leaked to AFP and other media.

"What news have you got on that?" Gaubert asked. "I don't want to discuss this on the phone," Hortefeux replied, adding: "There's a lot, though, eh?"

"Helene didn't speak to them directly," Gaubert insisted, surprised.

"She was interviewed. She knows. She was aware of your activities. Listen, uh, try to swing by to see me one of these days anyway," Hortefeux replied. Gaubert has been released but has been charged and is under investigation.

Sarkozy insists he had no responsibility for the funding side of Balladur's campaign, but many of the figures so far implicated in the probe are among his closest friends and allies, casting a cloud over his own re-election bid.

Balladur's campaign manager Nicolas Bazire is also accused of handling the alleged Pakistani cash. Bazire was best man at Sarkozy's 2008 wedding to supermodel-turned-singer Carla Bruni.

Date created : 2011-09-30

  • FRANCE

    Sarkozy's best man charged in 'Karachigate'

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    Sarkozy allies under scrutiny over Karachi kickbacks

    Read more

  • FRENCH POLITICS

    Interior Minister Hortefeux in court for allegedly racist remarks

    Read more

COMMENT(S)