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France

Court rules against Sarkozy on diary seizure as phone-tapping row continues

media French President Nicolas Sarkozy Reuters/Eric Gaillard

France's top court rejected a plea by former president Nicolas Sarkozy against the seizure of his diaries in a corruption case. Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault ruled out a special session of parliament to debate the row over the tapping of phones belonging to Sarkozy and his lawyer.

The Cour de cassation on Tuesday said there was no need for it rule on the seizure of Sarkozy's diaries because the charges - of taking advantage of millionaire heiress Liliane Bettencourt to raise funds for his 2007 election campaign - have been dropped.

Dossier - The Bettencourt scandal

But magistrates may still use the diaries in two other inquiries - into suspected influence-peddling in a legal case brought by businessman and politician Bernard Tapie against the Crédit Lyonnais bank and allegations of funding of the 2007 presidential campaign by the late Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi.

The Kadhafi funding case is the source of the latest row concerning the former president over investigators' decision to tap mobile phones belonging to him and his lawyer, Thierry Herzog.

After Le Monde newspaper revealed their existence and alleged that they revealed that a magistrate, Gilbert Azibert, had tipped the two men off about legal proceedings against them, lawyers protested at one of their colleagues being spied on and Sarkozy's party, the UMP, demanded to know whether the government was behind the move.

Background reading: Previous French scandals

Denying the charge, Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault on Tuesday rejected UMP leader Jean-Marc Copé's call for an emergency session of parliament and a commission of inquiry on the grounds of the independence of the justice system.

Hollande, for his part, said that he would reply to the bar concerning the lawyers' concerns.

Another court made a ruling that should be to Sarkozy's liking on Tuesday.

A Paris court ordered the Atlantico website to take down excerpts from conversations by his erstwhile publicity chief, advertising agency chief Jean-Michel Goudard, taped by another erstwhile adviser, Patrick Buisson, or pay 5,000 euros for every day they stayed online.

The satirical paper Le Canard Enchaîné, which also published extracts, was ordered to publish the court's ruling on a case brought by Buisson.

Sarkozy and his wife Carla Bruni-Sarkozy have also taken legal action over the leaks and a judgement should be declared on Friday.

Dossier: The Cahuzac affair

More leaked tapes surfaced on the Médiapart website on Tuesday, this time of Sarkozy's former interior minister Brice Hortefeux apparently being coached by the Paris chief of police, Christian Flaesch, before being questioned in the Kadhafi funding affair.

Sarkozy, who is widely believed to be preparing to run for president in 2017, was to make a public appearance on Tuedsay evening at a concert starring his wife at the Paris Olympia concert hall.

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