Frenchman Sarkozy to testify in poll fraud trial (judge) – .

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Frenchman Sarkozy to testify in poll fraud trial (judge) – .


Paris (AFP)

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy will have to testify in a trial in which his former collaborators are accused of embezzling public funds on voting contracts, a judge ruled on Tuesday.

Sarkozy, who enjoys presidential immunity in the case, had said he would not appear as a witness in the case after being tried and convicted twice this year in separate cases.

But the judge said Sarkozy’s testimony was “necessary to determine the truth” on opinion polls commissioned when he was president and ordered him to appear on November 2.

Sarkozy representatives said they did not intend to comment “at this stage”.

The defendants are five former collaborators and allies of the right winger who ruled France between 2007 and 2012. They face charges ranging from favoritism to conspiracy and abuse of public funds for the award of voting contracts. with a combined value of 7.5 million euros ($ 8.7 million). .

These include Sarkozy’s former chief of staff, Claude Guéant, as well as Patrick Buisson, a former adviser and leading consultant for right-wing politicians.

Prosecutors say contracts have often been signed directly with institutes such as Ipsos, breaking French public funding laws that require transparent and competitive bidding processes.

Critics accused Sarkozy of being “addicted” to opinion polls during his 2007-2012 term, on issues ranging from his own popularity and policies to public perceptions of Carla Bruni, the singer and former top model. whom he married during his tenure.

The order to testify marks the latest skirmish between the former president and French justice.

At the end of September, a French court sentenced Sarkozy to one year in prison for illegal financing of his failed candidacy for re-election in 2012.

The decision came seven months after he received a separate prison sentence for corruption.

He is appealing both sentences and is not expected to serve a sentence behind bars as the courts have ruled he can wear an electronic bracelet instead.

The 66-year-old has also been charged with suspicion of receiving millions of euros for his 2007 election campaign from late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

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