Karachi case: Sarkozy 'investigated over secrecy breach'

Nicolas Sarkozy Judges have reportedly overruled prosecutors in the investigation

France's ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy is to be investigated over accusations of a breach of secrecy in an alleged corruption case, the "Karachi affair", the French agency AFP reports.

His office had said in 2011 that he was not named in any of the case documents.

Plaintiffs in the case say that statement violated confidentiality.

The long-running investigation stems from the death of 11 French engineers in a bombing in Pakistan in 2002, which may have been linked to French bribes.

It is the latest legal headache for Mr Sarkozy, who has also been questioned over allegations that his 2007 election campaign received illegal donations from France's richest woman.

Start Quote

[The revenge attack theory] is a monumental - and unproven - allegation. But the families of many of those who died are increasingly inclined to believe it”

End Quote Hugh Schofield BBC News, Paris
Immunity?

Three judges have decided that the secrecy breach investigation into Mr Sarkozy should proceed, a judicial source told AFP.

Prosecutors had argued that Mr Sarkozy could not be investigated because he had presidential immunity at the time, but the judges disagreed.

"The act of permitting the release of information concerning ongoing investigations does not enter into the functions of the president," the three investigating judges said in their ruling, according to AFP.

Mr Sarkozy has strongly denied that he had anything to do with an alleged deal whereby, as part of a contract to sell French submarines to Pakistan, "sweeteners" would be paid to Pakistani officials, and some would be returned as kickbacks to fund the 1995 presidential bid of Eduard Balladur.

Mr Sarkozy was a close ally of Mr Balladur.

When Jacques Chirac beat Mr Balladur to the presidency, he reportedly ordered the cancellation of the payments.

It has been alleged, though not proved, that the 2002 bomb attack that killed 11 French naval engineers in Karachi was an act of revenge for ceasing the payments to Pakistan.

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