French ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy was detained for questioning on Tuesday over allegations the late Libyan dictator Moamer Kadhafi financed his 2007 election campaign, including with suitcases stuffed with cash, a source close to the inquiry told AFP.
Sarkozy, 63, was taken into police custody early Tuesday morning and was being questioned by officers specialising in corruption, money laundering and tax evasion at their office in the western Parisian suburb of Nanterre.
AFP’s source said that Brice Hortefeux, a close ally who served as a senior minister during Sarkozy’s presidency, was also questioned Tuesday as part of the inquiry.
The case is France’s most explosive political financing scandal and one of several legal probes that have dogged the rightwing politician since he left office after one term in 2012.
Since 2013, investigating magistrates have been probing media reports, as well as statements by Kadhafi’s son Seif al-Islam, that claimed funds were provided for Sarkozy’s run at the presidency.
“Sarkozy must first give back the money he took from Libya to finance his electoral campaign,” Seif told the Euronews network in 2011 as NATO-backed forces were driving his father out of power.
Sarkozy has dismissed the allegations as the rantings of vindictive Libyan regime members who were furious over France’s military intervention in Libya that helped end Kadhafi’s 41-year rule and led to his death.