Nicolas Sarkozy faced a second day of questioning on Wednesday by investigators examining claims the former French president received funding for his 2007 election campaign from the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.
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 examining claims that Gaddafi’s regime secretly gave Sarkozy 50 million euros overall for the 2007 campaign. The allegations were first made by the late dictator’s son, Saif al-Islam, in 2011.
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.
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.
French authorities can keep Sarkozy in custody for up to 48 hours, after which he could be released without charge, placed under formal investigation or asked to reappear at a later date.
The Libyan investigation is just one of several legal probes that have dogged the 63-year-old 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.