World Bulletin / News Desk
Police raided the home and offices of former French president Nicolas Sarkozy on Tuesday as part of a judicial inquiry into financial relations between his political camp and the richest woman in France, L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt.
It was Sarkozy's first legal tangle since he was unseated in a May 6 election after five years in office, during which he enjoyed presidential immunity from legal pursuit. That cover expired in mid-June.
Sarkozy's lawyer, Thierry Herzog, said the raids a day after his client had left for Canada on holiday would show nothing and that he had already supplied information to investigators that debunked suspicions of secret meetings with Bettencourt.
"These raids ... will as expected prove futile," Herzog said in a statement.
The Bettencourt probe centres on financial relations between Sarkozy's centre-right UMP party and the billionaire heiress of the L'Oreal cosmetics empire. In one strand, investigators are trying to establish whether Sarkozy's 2007 election campaign in particular was funded illicitly.
Herzog said magistrates looking into whether Sarkozy had received campaign funds from the now mentally fragile Bettencourt had been supplied with diary details of all Sarkozy appointments in 2007.
Those details, he said, "prove that the purported 'secret meetings' with Madame Liliane Bettencourt were impossible".
Sarkozy's predecessor, Jacques Chirac, who ruled France from 1995 to 2007, was handed a two-year suspended jail sentence in December after a court found him guilty of misusing public funds for political purposes when he was mayor of Paris.
Francois Hollande, who unseated Sarkozy in May, has vowed to change the rules in France under his tenure so that the law no longer treats presidents differently from other civilians regarding matters that predate their time in office.
The 57-year-old Sarkozy, who has adopted a low profile since his defeat, faces a number of legal tangles now that he is no longer head of state.
Days after his constitutionally guaranteed immunity expired in mid-June, a lawyer announced a formal legal complaint in another affair with a political funding link in which he wants Sarkozy to answer questions.
That complaint came from a lawyer acting for victims of a 2002 bombing in Karachi that investigators believe may be linked to a long-running corruption and illegal party-financing case.
In the so-called "Karachi Affair", investigators are trying to unravel dealings by middlemen and possible kickbacks linked to France's sale of Agosta class submarines to Pakistan in the 1990s.
That contract was negotiated and signed while Sarkozy was a minister and spokesman for a politician who ran unsuccessfully for president in 1995, Edouard Balladur.
Government pledges unhindered access by foreign reporters after pressure from national dialogue committee, says journalist
When George W. Bush was president, Mueller and Comey worked together -- Mueller as FBI director and Comey as deputy attorney general.
A council resolution called on the UN rights office to dispatch a team of international experts to help Kinshasa investigate gross rights violations in the region, including extrajudicial killings, torture, rape and the use of child soldiers.
"My first impression is the UK offer is below our expectations and this risks worsening the situation of our citizens in the UK," EU President Donald Tusk told a news conference after the second day of a Brussels summit.
"This June 23, the United Nations mission in Colombia will announce that the FARC has handed over 100 percent of its weapons," Santos told an economic forum in Paris.
Macron is seeking to change a two-decade old EU rule aimed at allowing firms to hire workers with specialised skills from other member states on a temporary basis -- one Paris critics say price French workers out of jobs.
Merkel's deputy spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer told reporters Friday that the Berlin meeting would bring together British Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron as well as the leaders of Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and Norway.
Argentinian football star Lionel Messi agrees to pay €252,000 ($281,000) fine instead of serving 21-month prison sentence
Maarif Foundation officials reassures parents fearful of closures, saying the group will provide continuity of supervision
Foundation in memory of British lawmaker murdered by far-right extremist backs tech giant's campaign
Remarks by Quebec premier not helpful, Muslim council president says
Principles ‘indispensable’ to ‘promoting sustainable stability and security in our societies’, ambassador Koja says
Attackers tried to set free Allied Democratic Force prisoners in North Kivu
Sanctions would 'seriously' endanger bilateral ties, Sergey Lavrov says in telephone call with Rex Tillerson