PARIS - A French court awarded President Nicolas Sarkozy one euro (89 pence) in damages on Friday because fraudsters took money from his personal account after obtaining his account details.

The Versailles appeals court decided that Sarkozy was eligible to make a civil complaint in the case.

The decision overturned an earlier ruling by a different court which said that because a serving president has legal immunity, Sarkozy's complaint should be heard at the end of his mandate.

The appeals court has made a decision. It has declared the head of state eligible to file a civil complaint and therefore awards him, in line with his request, one euro in damages, an official at the appeals court said.

The decision could have an impact on the unrelated Clearstream case, in which Sarkozy is seeking damages over an alleged attempt by political opponents to smear him before the 2007 presidential election.

Defendants in that case, including former Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, have argued that Sarkozy's status as French president should bar him from taking civil legal action.

Sarkozy called in the police in September 2008 after small amounts went missing from his bank account. The fraudsters used the bank details of Sarkozy and dozens of others to pay for telephone subscriptions.

Five people have been convicted in the affair. (Reporting by Gregory Blachier; writing by Anna Willard; editing by Tim Pearce)