Sarkozy fights back in face of corruption charges

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 2, 2014 at 2:29 pm •  Published: July 2, 2014
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PARIS (AP) — Former President Nicolas Sarkozy has accused France's justice system of trying to "humiliate" and "destroy" him, after he was charged in a corruption probe that could spell trouble for his future political ambitions.

The former conservative party leader fought back in a broadcast interview Wednesday, just hours after his release from questioning over a highly publicized investigation into judicial allegations that he took 50 million euros ($67 million) in illegal campaign funds from Libya's Moammar Gadhafi.

The detention — a very unusual move for such a high-level figure — has dominated French news broadcasts, and comes as his faltering UMP political party has floated a possible comeback by the hard-driving 59-year-old.

Sarkozy, who spent nearly a day in custody on Tuesday answering questions about his 2007 presidential campaign, said on TF1 TV and Europe-1 radio that he was "profoundly shocked" over his 16-hour detention.

"Is it normal that I should be in custody for so long?" Sarkozy asked, squinting intensely at an interviewer. He said his detention was motivated out of "a desire to humiliate me."

"A part of the justice system is being used for political purposes," he said, warning of an unspecified plot.

"In our country ... there are things that are in the process of being organized," he said. "The French need to know them, and in their conscience, and freely, need to judge what's happening."

Le Monde newspaper has reported that the questioning centers on whether Sarkozy and his lawyers were informed about an investigation into the Libyan case by magistrate Gilbert Azibert, in exchange for promises — that were never fulfilled — for him to receive a post in Monaco.

"Azibert did not get a post in Monaco," Sarkozy said. "There has been no move in favor of Monsieur Azibert."

He hinted that the charges wouldn't necessarily stop him for running for president again in 2017 — although he left people guessing about his future career plans.

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