France’s Nicolas Sarkozy loses bid to avoid influence peddling trial

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy will stand trial for influence peddling after the country's highest court rejected his final bid to avoid a trial. (AFP/2018 File Photo)
Updated 19 June 2019

France’s Nicolas Sarkozy loses bid to avoid influence peddling trial

  • Sarkozy is accused of offering to help a judge win promotion
  • Sarkozy’s lawyers have previously argued that magistrates investigating the alleged secret Libyan funding exceeded their powers

PARIS: Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy will stand trial for influence peddling after the country's highest court rejected his final bid to have the case thrown out, his lawyer said on Wednesday.
Sarkozy is accused of offering to help a judge win promotion in return for leaked information about a separate inquiry. He has consistently denied any wrongdoing.
The case came about after investigators used phone-taps to examine allegations that late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi funded Sarkozy’s successful campaign for the presidency in 2007.
As they eavesdropped on his calls, the investigators began to suspect the former president had offered the judge promotion in return for information on another investigation involving allegations Sarkozy accepted illicit payments from L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt for the same campaign.
Sarkozy’s lawyers have previously argued that magistrates investigating the alleged secret Libyan funding exceeded their powers and went on a “fishing expedition” by tapping his conversations between September 2013 and March 2014, breaching lawyer-client privilege.
He was cleared over the Bettencourt allegations.
On Wednesday, his defence team said the use in this case of wiretapped remarks gleaned in relation to a different investigation contravened a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights.
"These legal issues are still relevant," Sarkozy lawyer Jacqueline Laffont said. "It will be for the court to decide whether a French court can override a decision of the European Court of Human Rights."
Wednesday's ruling that the trial proceed came from the 'Cour de Cassation', which decides whether an earlier decision by an appeals court conforms with French law.


Militant violence putting “generation at risk” in Africa’s Sahel-WFP

Updated 9 min 56 sec ago

Militant violence putting “generation at risk” in Africa’s Sahel-WFP

  • Groups with links to Al-Qaeda and Daesh have in recent years spread across the arid scrublands of the Sahel

GENEVA: Extremist violence in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso has forced nearly 1 million people to flee their homes, destroyed fragile agricultural economies and hobbled humanitarian aid efforts, the World Food Programme (WFP) said on Tuesday.
Groups with links to Al-Qaeda and Daesh, once confined to lawless areas of northern Mali, have in recent years spread across the arid scrublands of the Sahel, to the south of the Sahara, into Burkina Faso and Niger, stoking local ethnic conflicts and attacking security forces wherever they go.
“The world does not yet fully grasp the extent of the mounting humanitarian crisis in the central Sahel region,” said WFP spokesman Herve Verhoosel. “If we do not act now to tackle hunger in the Sahel, a whole generation are at risk.”
In all, 860,000 people have been displaced across the three countries and 2.4 million are in need of urgent food assistance, the WFP said. But a lack of security stops most of the aid reaching those in need.
Despite the presence of growing ranks of international troops, the violence continues to spread.
On Monday, unidentified gunmen killed 24 Malian soldiers and wounded 29 in an ambush that bore the hallmarks of a extremist attack. It was the third major attack against the army in less than two months that together have killed over 100 soldiers.
Those attacks mark a step-up in violence, according to records from Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project, an NGO. In 2019, about 95 members of the Malian security forces, including soldiers, policemen, gendarmes and other officials, were killed. So far in 2019, about 249 have died.
Peace has been shattered in Burkina Faso, where in the first half of 2019 civilian deaths were four times what they were for the whole of 2018. One third of the country is now in a conflict zone, the WFP said. There were 480,000 people displaced at the end of 2018, which is expected to rise to 650,000 by the end of 2019.