Last tuesday, the former French President Nicolas Sarkozy was stopped by the police in Nanterre: he is charged of bribery and trafficking of influences. The same measure was taken against his lawyer, Thierry Herzog, and two senior judges, Patrick Gilbert and Azibert Sassoust, as part of an investigation on a matter of violations of the confidentiality of investigations and recommendations.
At the center of the story there is a suspicion that Sarkozy possessed a network of informers in the judiciary in order to be aware of legal proceedings which could threaten him. The case stems from another investigation, opened in 2013, regarding alleged funding from Libya to Sarkozy’s election campaign in 2007. In this context, the judges ordered the interception of cellular former president: they discovered that Sarkozy used a second mobile number, registered under the false name of Paul Bismuth, to communicate with the lawyer Herzog, who also had a mobile phone with a false identity.
These communications would prove that Sarkozy and Herzog were aware of many details about the investigation of Bettencourt’s case. The suspicion is that Azibert was the informer, which was promised in exchange for help in getting a job in the principality of Monaco. The story is part of a political context in which the UMP, threatened by the competition of the National Front, is still searching for a leader and there are those who hoped the return of Sarkozy. The story could then be devastating to the hopes of Sarkozy’s return to the political scene, in time for the next presidential election campaign in 2017.
In the night of tuesday to wednesday, Sarkozy was detained in Nanterre for questioning. The stationary regime of the so-called ‘garde a vue’ is a completely new fit against a former occupant of the Elysée.
Before 2012 french presidential elections, something similar happened to Dominique Strauss-Kahn, one of the socialist would-be candidates, accused of sexual harassment.
After 15 hours of police custody, the day after, Nicolas Sarkozy said he was “shocked and humiliated” and, on TV, he spoke out against the “political exploitation of a part of judiciary.” He said on TV “I love my country passionately and I am not discouraged in front of the insults and political manipulation”.