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A special conference of Germany's Sociald Democratic Party (SPD) has narrowly voted in favour of formal talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats to form a coalition government, 362 delegates voting for, 279 against and one abstaining.

Europe

Sarkozy associate on bail in London awaiting extradition hearing

media Alexandre Djouhr at Paris's Parc des Princes stadium in 2014 REUTERS/ Benoit Tessier

A French businessman close to former French president Nicolas Sarkozy has been released on bail after being arrested in London. Alexandre Djouri is suspected of being an intermediary in the alleged financing of Sarkozy's 2007 election campaign by Libya's then-leader Moamer Kadhafi.

Accompanied by his son, Djouhri reported to Notting Hill police station on Saturday morning, one of the conditions of his one-million-pound (1.13-million-euro) bail, which also stipulated that he must stay at his daughter's London home and subjected him to a curfew.

He was arrested on the basis of a French-issued European arrest warrant on arrival at Heathrow airport on Sunday.

After five nights in jail, he was released on bail on Friday, while awaiting an extradition hearing set for 17 April.

Kadhafi allegations

French investigators want to question him in relation to one of several cases involving the former president - the allegation that the late Libyan leader contributed millions to Sarkozy's first presidential bid.

Kadhafi himself made the allegations before being driven out of power and killed in 2011 and his son, Seif al-Islam, repeated them.

Djouri is suspected of being the real owner of a villa in the south of France that was sold to Kadhafi regime money manager Bashir Saleh for about 10 million euros, a price they believe was set too high, possibly to conceal money-laundering.

Saleh was also killed in 2011.

Summons ignored

Sarkozy denies the allegations.

Djouri, 58, is a French national but a Swiss resident.

He has so far avoided speaking to investigators, ignoring a summons to appear before magistrates in 2016.

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