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France

Sarkozy says ‘no evidence’ to support Libya corruption claims

media Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy enters his car as he leaves his house in Paris, France, March 21, 2018. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy blasted what he said was a lack of evidence for corruption charges to be laid against him over allegations that late Libyan dictator Moamer Kadhafi funded his 2007 election campaign, in his court statement published Thursday.

The morning after he was placed under formal investigation into one of France's most explosive political scandals in years, the 63-year-old rightwinger said he had been in "living hell" since the allegations first emerged in 2011.

Demanding he be treated as a witness rather than a suspect, he urged magistrates to consider "the violence of the injustice" if it was proven, as he claims, that the accusations are a "manipulation by the dictator Kadhafi or his gang".

"In the 24 hours of my detention I have tried with all my might to show that the serious corroborating evidence required to charge someone did not exist," Sarkozy said in his statement.

"I stand accused without any tangible evidence through comments made by Mr Kadhafi, his son, his nephew, his cousin, his spokesman, his former prime minister," he added.

Judges decided they had enough evidence to charge the combative one-term president Wednesday after five years of investigation and two days of questioning in police custody.

Sarkozy, who served from 2007-2012, was charged with corruption, illegal campaign financing and concealment of Libyan public money.

"I've been living the hell of this slander since March 11, 2011" when Kadhafi first made the allegations, Sarkozy said.

And he lashed out at Franco-Lebanese businessman Ziad Takieddinewho claims to have delivered three cash-stuffed suitcases from Kadhafi in 2006 and 2007, when Sarkozy was preparing his first run for president.

And he lashed out at Franco-Lebanese businessman Ziad Takieddinewho claims to have delivered three cash-stuffed suitcases from Kadhafi in 2006 and 2007, when Sarkozy was preparing his first run for president.

Takieddine, who claimed he provided 1.5 to 2 million euros ($2.5 million) in 200-euro and 500-euro notes, has "highly suspect characteristics and the questionable past", Sarkozy retorted.

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