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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 27 February 2021

Former French leader Nicolas Sarkozy to sue over claims he took millions from Qaddafi

Key witness changes story of ‘illegal financing’ during 2007 presidential election

Nicolas Sarkozy played an important role in the overthrow of Muammar Qaddafi in 2011. The two leaders met in 2007. WireImage
Nicolas Sarkozy played an important role in the overthrow of Muammar Qaddafi in 2011. The two leaders met in 2007. WireImage

Former president of France Nicolas Sarkozy has asked his legal team to halt a court case and sue a key witness for defamation.

Mr Sarkozy issued a statement after an extraordinary U-turn by Lebanese-French businessman Ziad Takieddine, who had alleged that he had taken €5 million ($5.91m) from Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi to France to finance the French politician’s 2007 election campaign.

Mr Takieddine, 70, a witness in accusations against Mr Sarkozy, said he had delivered the money in a suitcase from Tripoli to the former French president’s chief of staff in 2006 and 2007.

However, Mr Takieddine published a video in which he claimed his words had been twisted.

"I am saying loud and clear the magistrate ... really wanted to turn it the way he wanted and make me say things which are totally contradictory to what I said," he said.

Ziad Takieddine had claimed he delivered suitcases carrying a total of €5 million euros from Tripoli to Nicolas Sarkozy's chief of staff in 2006 and 2007. AFP
Ziad Takieddine had claimed he delivered suitcases carrying a total of €5 million euros from Tripoli to Nicolas Sarkozy's chief of staff in 2006 and 2007. AFP

"There was no financing of Sarkozy's presidential campaign.”

Mr Sarkozy said his lawyers would seek to halt the case and sue Mr Takieddine for defamation.

Responding to the news, he said: "The truth is out at last.

"For seven and a half years, the investigation has not discovered the slightest proof of any illegal financing whatsoever," he said on Facebook.

"The chief accuser recognises his lies. He never gave me money, there was never illegal financing of my campaign in 2007."

Last month, French prosecutors charged Mr Sarkozy for “membership in a criminal conspiracy” after he was questioned for 40 hours over four days.

This was added to charges filed in 2018 of accepting bribes, benefiting from embezzled public funds and illegal campaign financing.

Mr Sarkozy was president of France from 2007 to 2012 and played a key role supporting Libyan rebels in their overthrow of Qaddafi in 2011.

In 2012, news website Mediapart published a document claiming that Qaddafi had given as much as €50m.

Mr Takieddine, an alleged arms dealer, is in Beirut on the run from France over a separate suspicious financing incident.

Updated: November 12, 2020 06:29 PM

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