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Geopolitics

French Politics: Ex-Judge Accuses Sarkozy Of Taking Money From L’Oreal Heiress

The French President’s office vehemently denies the allegations, to be published in a new book, that he was directly involved in a corruption scandal that shook his party last year. The case comes as Sarkozy prepares for his reelection bid next year.

Sarkozy will run for reelection next year (EPP)
Sarkozy will run for reelection next year (EPP)

Worldcrunch NEWS BITES

PARIS - It may be the clearest sign that the 2012 French presidential campaign is truly underway. The office of French President Nicolas Sarkozy vehemently denied Wednesday new accusations by a judge that Sarkozy was directly involved in a corruption scandal that hit his party last year.

In a book entitled "Sarko m'a tuer," (Sarko Killed Me) to be published this week in France, Le Monde journalists Gerard Davet and Fabrice Lhomme compiled accounts from 27 French figures who say they were victims of political persecution by the French President, nicknamed "Sarko." Among those interviewed were local officials, journalists and former Prime Minister and long-time Sarkozy nemesis Dominique de Villepin.

But the potentially most explosive comments come from Judge Isabelle Prevost-Desprez, once in charge of investigating allegations involving l'Oreal cosmetics heiress Liliane Bettencourt, who was accused last year of illegally financing Sarkozy's center-right UMP party. Prevost-Desprez told the authors that a Bettencourt employee reported witnessing Sarkozy, then a presidential candidate, receiving cash at the billionaire's house.

Prevost-Desprez, who was taken off the Bettencourt case last year, believes witnesses refused to give the information on the record for fear of reprisal. "One of the witnesses told me that they saw Sarko receiving cash," the judge says in the book, excerpted Wednesday in Liberazione daily. "I'm sure Metzner (Bettencourt's daughter's lawyer) would have made Bettencourt's nurse testify. She told my clerk: ‘I saw cash being given to Sarkozy but I couldn't say it in my statement to the judge."

Bettencourt's accountant, Claire Thiboult had already brought up these allegations, but more vaguely. "This case was a major risk for (Sarkozy). There was a 90% chance that it would blow up. They had to get me off the case at any cost. They had to drop me," Prevost-Desprez adds, saying she was put under surveillance before the case was transferred to another judge in the fall of 2010.

A spokesman for Sarkozy denied the judge's claims, calling them baseless and scandalous.

Read an interview with the authors French

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Geopolitics

Why The 'Perfect Storm' Of Iran's Protests May Be Unstoppable

The latest round of anti-regime protests in Iran is different than other in the 40 years of the Islamic Republic: for its universality and boldness, the level of public fury and grief, and the role of women and social media. The target is not some policy or the economy, but the regime itself.

A woman holds a lock of her hair during a London rally to protest the murder of Mahsa Amini in London

Roshanak Astaraki

-Analysis-

The death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in Tehran on Sept. 16, after a possible beating at a police station, has sparked outrage and mass protests in Iran and abroad. There have been demonstrations and a violent attempt to suppress them in more than 100 districts in every province of Iran.

These protests may look like others since 2017, and back even to 1999 — yet we may be facing an unprecedented turning point in Iranians' opposition to the Islamic Republic. Indeed newly installed conservative President Ibrahim Raisi could not have expected such momentum when he set off for a quick trip to New York and back for a meeting of the UN General Assembly.

For one of the mistakes of a regime that takes pride in dismissing the national traditions of Iran is to have overlooked the power of grief among our people.

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