When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

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

Photo - europeanpeoplesparty

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

Green Or Gone

Tracking The Asian Fishing "Armada" That Sucks Up Tons Of Seafood Off Argentina's Coast

A brightly-lit flotilla of fishing ships has reappeared in international waters off the southern coast of Argentina as it has annually in recent years for an "industrial harvest" of thousands of tons of fish and shellfish.

Photo of dozens of crab traps

An estimated 500 boats gather annually off the coast of Patagonia

Claudio Andrade

BUENOS AIRES — The 'floating city' of industrial fishing boats has returned, lighting up a long stretch of the South Pacific.

Recently visible off the coast of southern Argentina, aerial photographs showed the well-lit armada of some 500 vessels, parked 201 miles offshore from Comodoro Rivadavia in the province of Chubut. The fleet had arrived for its vast seasonal haul of sea 'products,' confirming its annual return to harvest squid, cod and shellfish on a scale that activists have called an environmental blitzkrieg.

In principle the ships are fishing just outside Argentina's exclusive Economic Zone, though it's widely known that this kind of apparent "industrial harvest" does not respect the territorial line, entering Argentine waters for one reason or another.

For some years now, activists and organizations like Greenpeace have repeatedly denounced industrial-style fishing as exhausting marine resources worldwide and badly affecting regional fauna, even if the fishing outfits technically manage to evade any crackdown by staying in or near international waters.

Keep reading...Show less

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

The latest