Sarkozy questioned by police over ties to Gadhafi

Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy arrested and in police custody

Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy arrested and in police custody

The prosecution claims Sarkozy spent almost double the legal limit of $24m on his lavish campaign, using false billing from a public relations firm called Bygmalion.

Sarkozy, who served as president from 2007 to 2012, has always denied receiving any illicit campaign funding and has dismissed the Libyan allegations as "grotesque".

He is said to have accepted €50m from Moammer Gaddafi's regime, claims which have been repeated by the late Libyan dictator's son and French businessman Ziad Takieddine.

In the Mediapart interview published in November 2016, Mr. Takieddine said he was given €5 million in Tripoli by Qadhafi's intelligence chief on trips in late 2006 and 2007 and that he gave the money in suitcases full of cash to Mr. Sarkozy and Mr. Gueant on three occasions.

It's the first time Sarkozy's been questioned since the investigation opened in 2013.

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Sarkozy is being questioned by police in Nanterre and could be held up to 48 hours before being presented to the Magistrates Court for indictment if police seek charges, Le Monde reported.

In this Dec.10, 2007 file photo, Libyan leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi, left, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy pose during a signing ceremony at the Elysee Palace in Paris.

He attempted to stage a comeback for the 2017 election, but failed to convince the voters in his own party to support him and had to concede to Francois Fillon and Alain Juppe.

A lawyer for Sarkozy did not immediately respond to a message from the AP seeking comments.

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