Sarkozy associate granted bail by London court


London (AFP)

A key figure arrested as part of the campaign financing investigation against French politician Nicolas Sarkozy has been granted bail by a British court on health grounds.

Alexandre Djouhri, who is wanted by French courts, was bailed for £1 million ($1.40 million, 1.14 million euros) at a hearing in London's Westminster Magistrates' Court last Friday, Judge Emma Arbuthnot said Thursday.

The judge said that she would re-evaluate Djouhri's situation "weekly depending on his health".

Djouhri suffers from heart problems and underwent surgery on Thursday, a source close to the case told AFP.

French investigators are examining the 59-year-old businessman's alleged involvement in the 2009 sale of a villa in the French Alps, for around 10 million euros, to a Libya investment fund managed by former Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi's ex-chief of staff Bashir Saleh.

Djouhri is suspected of being the true owner of the villa, which was sold at a "very inflated" price, a source close to the inquiry told AFP.

Investigators also suspect Djouhri of helping Saleh get out of France in early 2012, in a private jet headed for Niger, as he faced a Libyan arrest warrant a few months after Kadhafi's overthrow.

He was arrested at London Heathrow airport in January under a European arrest warrant issued by the French courts, having failed to surrender to summonses.

He was initially released on bail following the payment of a £1 million bond, but was arrested again at the end of February after France issued a second European arrest warrant.

His lawyers subsequently requested his release on medical grounds.

Djouhri must also wear an electronic bracelet and stick to a curfew that only allows him out between 2.00pm and 6.00pm. His French and Algerian passports have been seized.

The request to extradite him to France is scheduled to be heard from July 9.

Former president Sarkozy faces trial for illegal campaign financing and has been charged with accepting millions of euros in funding from late Kadhafi.