PARIS — Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy was held in custody on Tuesday and questioned by magistrates investigating whether late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi helped finance his 2007 election campaign, an official in the French judiciary said.
It is the second major judicial investigation to fall on the 63-year-old, who served as president from 2007-2012. He already faces trial on separate charges of illicit spending overruns during his failed re-election campaign in 2012.
A lawyer for Sarkozy could not immediately be reached for comment. The former president has dismissed the Libya allegations as “grotesque” and a ‘crude manipulation’.
France opened an inquiry into the Libya case in 2013, after reports by French website Mediapart based on claims by a Franco-Lebanese businessman, Ziad Takieddine, who said he had transferred 5 million euros ($6 million) from Gaddafi’s former intelligence chief Abdullah Senussi to Sarkozy’s campaign director.
Months after he took office in 2007, the French leader came in for criticism for hosting a state visit by Gaddafi during which the Libyan leader pitched his trademark Bedouin-style tent next to the Elysee Palace.
Gaddafi’s first visit to a Western leader in decades, which was accompanied by the signing of several business deals, came after Sarkozy helped get five Bulgarian nurses accused of infecting children with HIV released from jail in Libya.
Sarkozy was later one of the chief advocates of a NATO-led military campaign that resulted in Gaddafi’s overthrow and killing at the hands of rebel forces in 2011.
French judicial procedure allows for investigators to hold a person for questioning for up to 48 hours, after which the magistrates must say whether they have grounds for turning a preliminary inquiry into a full investigation.
7 killed after Delhi-Bound train derails in Bihar
NEW DELHI — At least seven people have died and 14 others injured after a Delhi-bound train derailed early Sunday morning in Bihar’s Vaishali district.
Eleven coaches of 12487 Seemanchal Express derailed near Sahadai Buzurg at around 3:52 am. Three of the coaches overturned and the high force of the impact destroyed them completely.
The injured are being transported to local hospitals.
The superfast train from Jogbani in Bihar to Delhi’s Anand Vihar Terminal was running at full speed when the accident took place, officials said.
Bodies are believed to be trapped inside one of the affected coaches and the number of dead is likely to rise, local police official said.