Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy was taken into police custody in Paris Tuesday for questioning in a corruption investigation.
Officials are tracing the source of funds for his 2007 presidential campaign and if a judge let him in on confidential details about an internal inquiry. His lawyer and two magistrates were also arrested by the police on Tuesday, but Sarkozy, who led the country from 2007 to 2012, has said he is not guilty. Sarkozy’s hopes to regain the presidency in 2017 will be dashed if he is proven guilty in the investigation, according to Associated Press.
“Justice officials are investigating, they should carry out the task to the end. Nicolas Sarkozy is a citizen answerable to justice like any other," Stephane Le Foll, a government spokesperson said, AP reported.
As part of an internal investigation, the police had tapped Sarkozy's phone calls to determine if former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi gave 40 million pounds ($68.41 million) to Sarkozy’s 2007 presidential campaign. And, the police suspect that the magistrates told Sarkozy about the internal investigation, following which he procured another phone under the alias of Paul Bismuth, through which he contacted his lawyer, The Guardian reported.
The police can hold Sarkozy for a full day and keep him for another day, with a judge's permission, if they feel it necessary for the investigation, according to The Guardian, which added that officials would have to release him after two days, or place him under formal investigation.
“We're used to surprises with Nicolas Sarkozy,” François Rebsamen, France's Socialist employment minister, said according to The Guardian, adding: “There's a legal inquiry and I'll wait for its conclusions. Having said that, in terms of financial matters, this period was marked with a lack of respect for the rules and by excesses that are now before the judges.”
Investigators are also trying to find out if the 59-year-old Sarkozy influenced a settlement process that helped Bernard Tapie, owner of the football club Olympique Marseille and a supporter of Sarkozy's 2007 presidential bid, earn 400 million euros ($547.54 million) from the French government, according to the Telegraph.