Sarkozy ensnared in Bettencourt scandal
Former president Nicolas Sarkozy will remain under formal investigation in a case involving suspected illegal campaign donations by France’s richest woman, Liliane Bettencourt, after judges dismissed a motion to throw out a key medical report.
Legal woes continued to hound former French president Nicolas Sarkozy as a court in the southwestern city of Bordeaux on Tuesday ruled against his lawyers’ motion to throw out a contested medical evaluation at the heart of a case involving aging L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt.
Sarkozy’s lawyers had presented several arguments, notably that one of the investigative judges who has spent years building up the legal dossier was a close friend of the court doctor who concluded that Bettencourt was senile from September 2006.
Bordeaux judges decided Tuesday to keep the medical evaluation among the evidence in what is known in France as the 'Bettencourt scandal'. Sarkozy, along with a dozen other people, will thus remain under formal investigation.
Sarkozy had been hooked into the expansive case over alleged irregular campaign donations by Bettencourt during his successful 2007 presidential campaign. However, he has not yet been charged of any wrongdoing, and in June, judges cleared him of a portion of potential charges.
The Bettencourt case was only one of several legal hurdles France’s former head of state is trying to overcome.
Sarkozy has been named in alleged corruption cases against controversial French businessman Bernard Tapie, and in a case involving kickbacks for sales of submarines to Pakistan in the 1990s, among others.
Observers said the string of judicial troubles could affect his ability to return to politics.
There has been wide speculation in France that Sarkozy could try to reclaim the French presidency in 2017.