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Graft claims "shock" Sarkozy

03 July 2014 [10:52] - TODAY.AZ
Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy has spoken out for the first time since he was detained by police over corruption allegations, claiming the judiciary is being "politically manipulated", Anadolu Agency reported.

Speaking in a television interview Wednesday, he said: "What has happened is deeply shocking."

He went on to claim his 15-hour detention was an attempt to humiliate him. "A part of the judiciary is being politically manipulated," he said.

Sarkozy added: "The situation is sufficiently serious to tell the French people where we stand on the political exploitation of part of the legal system today.

"I say to all those who are listening or watching that I have never betrayed them and have never committed an act against the Republic's principles and the rule of law."

Alleging a conspiracy to create a false public image of him, he said he would accept responsibility if he was found to have done something wrong. "I am not the kind of person who runs away from responsibilities," he said in an interview for TF1 television and Europe 1 radio.

Sarkozy has been put under official investigation on charges of corruption and misuse of influence as part of a probe into alleged illegal financing of his 2007 election campaign, according to French media Wednesday.

The decision to charge Sarkozy came after he was detained for questioning in Nanterre on Tuesday -- the first time a former French head of state has been taken into custody.

Sarkozy, president from 2007 to 2012, was initially held by investigators for allegedly interfering in an investigation into political donations -- regarded as "influence peddling" in French law and carrying a maximum prison sentence of 10 years.

Sarkozy's lawyer Thierry Herzog and judges Patrick Sassoust and Gilbert Azibert, from the Court of Cassation and the High Court of Appeal, respectively, are also being questioned over allegations Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi helped finance Sarkozy's 2007 presidential campaign.

Christian Estrosi, a deputy from Sarkozy's former party, said no ex-president had been subjected to such treatment and accused the judiciary of bias.

French media said investigating judges bugged Sarkozy's phone calls in April as part of an investigation into the alleged Gaddafi donations.

Sarkozy had previously been reported to be considering a run for the presidency in 2017.



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