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Sarkozy escapes indictment in illegal campaign finance case

24 november 2012, 11:44
0
Former president Nicolas Sarkozy on Thursday avoided indictment in an investigation into allegations that his 2007 election campaign was financed with funds secured illegally from France's richest woman, AFP reports.

Instead, lawyers for the 57-year-old said, prosecutors will continue to deal with Sarkozy as a witness under caution. The decision came at the end of a day-long interrogation of the former French leader.

The category of 'witness under caution' was created in 1987 to avoid the presumption of guilt that was deemed to be a problem when suspects were formally charged in the French judicial system.

At the same time the term for charged was changed to the equivalent of "placed under investigation."

Although Sarkozy has not been put in that category, the decision to class him as a witness under caution means that prosecutors continue to believe there is credible evidence that he received illegal campaign funds from L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt and that their investigation will continue.

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