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Bettencourt Affair: Sarkozy In Court

  • March 24th, 2013
  • Posted by EUEditor

sarkhozy.jpgThe accusations against the former French President, Nicolas Sarkozy (picture), got to court, in a night session last Thursday at Bordeaux (21.3.13), six years after the alleged offence – misuse of a vulnerable person.

liliane-bettencourt.jpgReports dogged the presidency of Mr Sarkozy, 58, that he and others from the conservative side in France, would visit the elderly heiress from the l’Oreal cosmetics fortune, Liliane Bettencour, (picture), at Neuilly in Paris, and get money from her for their campaigns.

Sitting Presidents are immune from legal action so the case had to wait until after the accused man’s defeat in the Presidential elections last year.

He is still not accused in court; the process is an investigation by magistrates, but involves a search of evidence and can result in committal, for an offence carrying up to three years gaol and a fine of up to €375000 (A$466000;, 24.3.13).

His defenders have been quick and very emphatic in challenging the court; his lawyer denouncing the charges as wrong in law, put up by a compromised judge; political allies using every public channel to say it is all politically motivated.

cahuzac.jpgSome said it was being done to distract attention from the resignation of Jérôme Cahuzac (picture), the Socialist Party Budget Minister, placed under investigation for tax fraud and money laundering, 19.3.13.

See EUAustralia Online, “France: Scandal threat to government”, 9.1.13. See also, “Pressure on Nicolas Sarkozy”, 5.9.11; “Sarkozy’s trouble on two fronts …”, 15.9.10; “Veils, financial scandal …”, 14.7.10.

Discussion  in the court at Bordeaux has been about visits by Nicolas Sarkozy, or intermediaries for him,  to the home of Madame Bettencourt, now 90, suffering from dementia with family members holding power of attorney over her affairs, including a fortune of some A$28.5-billion.

The exploitation charge is said to offer prosecutors a simpler route than a corruption trial.

Other matters dating back to the Sarkozy presidency which might be taken up at some time, were stories of cronyism in handing out government or party contracts, and misuse of security powers.

Claude Canellas, “France’s Sarkozy investigated in party-funding affair”, Reuters, London, 21.3.13., (24.3.13).

Steven Erlanger, “Sarkozy Pushes Back Against Campaign-Finance Inquiry”, NY Times, NY, 22.3.13., (24.3.13).

Le Monde, Paris, (AFP, Reuters), “Affaire Bettencourt : l’avocat de Sarkozy met en cause ‘l’impartialité’ du juge Gentil” (Bettencourt affair: Sarkozy’s lawyer challenges impartiality of Judge Gentil), 24.3.13;  “Affaire Bettencourt : Nicolas Sarkozy mis en examen” (Sarkozy under examination in  court) , 21.3.13., (24.3.13).