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Sarkozy released after second day of questioning over Gaddafi financing claims

AFP file photo | Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy, 63, had a complex relationship with the late Libyan dictator, Muammar Gaddafi.

Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy was released from custody Wednesday evening after two days of questioning over allegations that late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi illegally helped finance his 2007 election campaign.


"Nicolas Sarkozy is no longer in custody," a source close to the case told AFP.

The source did not say whether the 63-year-old ex-president had been cleared of suspicion or still faced possible charges. Investigators are examining claims the former French president received millions from Gaddafi delivered in suitcases stuffed with euro bills.

Sarkozy arrived just before 8am at the offices of judicial investigators specialising in corruption, money laundering and tax evasion in the western Parisian suburb of Nanterre. He was first taken into custody on Tuesday morning but left the police building around midnight.

Investigators are exploring claims that Gaddafi's regime secretly gave Sarkozy €50 million in total for his 2007 campaign. The allegations were first made by the late dictator’s son, Saif al-Islam, in 2011.

"Judges have been looking into allegations since 2013" - FRANCE 24 reporter Catherine Norris-Trent

The case drew heightened scrutiny in November 2016 when Franco-Lebanese businessman Ziad Takieddine said he delivered three suitcases stuffed with Libyan cash to Sarkozy's former chief of staff and campaign director, Claude Guéant, between 2006 and 2007.

Sarkozy, who was president from 2007 to 2012, has always denied the allegations.

>> Read more: Gaddafi relations haunt Sarkozy in 2007 campaign financing case

The former French president had a complex relationship with Gaddafi. Soon after his election to the presidency, he invited the Libyan leader to Paris for a state visit and welcomed him with high honours. But Sarkozy then put France in the forefront of NATO-led airstrikes against Gaddafi's troops that helped rebel fighters topple his regime in 2011.

The Libyan investigation is just one of several legal probes that have dogged the former head of state since his one-term presidency. Investigating magistrates have recommended he face trial on separate charges of illegal campaign financing over his failed 2012 re-election bid.

'Of all Sarkozy's investigations, this could be the most damaging'

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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