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Former French president Sarkozy facing new legal charges

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy is facing new legal charges over alleged illegal financing of his successful election campaign in 2007, the financial prosecutor’s office said on Friday, confirming an earlier Mediapart press report.

Mr Sarkozy, who once again claimed his innocence on his Facebook page, has now been indicted for “conspiracy” in the inquiry over alleged Libyan financing of his campaign.

In 2018, Mr Sarkozy, who was president of France between 2007 and 2012, had been indicted for illegal financing and passive corruption.

“After four days of questioning, during which I answered all the questions that I was asked … my innocence has again been disregarded by a decision that doesn’t bring any evidence of any illicit financing”, Mr Sarkozy said on social media.

Mr Sarkozy, who claims he is victim of a “plot”, is the second former French president to stand trial after the late Jacques Chirac, who was convicted in 2011 of embezzling public funds and abuse of trust.

By the time Mr Sarkozy lost his re-election campaign against Francois Hollande in 2012, he had become the least popular French president since Philippe Petain.

His single-term presidency was marked by the global financial crisis of 2007/8, and his popularity seemed to crash in tandem with the markets. His approval ratings plummeted from close to 70 per cent at the start, to below 40 per cent by the end.

While the most serious scandals emerged after he left office, Mr Sarkozy’s popularity also took a hit from claims of nepotism after his son Jean Sarkozy was appointed to a high-powered business position for which the 23-year-old was vastly under-qualified.

Before that, there was the controversy surrounding his divorce from second wife Cecilia Ciganer-Albeniz and marriage of former model Carla Bruni, all within the first few months of his presidency.

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