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FRANCE 24, LE MONDE, BBC,REUTERS

Worldcrunch

PARIS –Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy has been placed under formal investigation over claims his 2007 campaign was funded by “exploiting the weakness” of elderly Liliane Bettencourt, the L’Oréal heiress and France’s richest woman.

Le Monde reports that Sarkozy's supporters in the current center-right opposition called the decision to open the investigation "a political act."

The announcement late Thursday, which still does not necessarily mean Sarkozy, 58, will be charged with any crime, nonetheless came as a surprise to many observers. Magistrates have long been looking into allegations that Sarkozy had accepted 150,000 euros ($193,740) from Bettencourt for his successful 2007 presidential campaign. Individual campaign funding cannot go over 4,600 euros ($5,941) in France, reports the BBC.

Bettencourt, now 90, and at the center of a long-running battle over control of the family fortune, was declared in a state of dementia in 2006, reports Reuters. The main accusation currently against Sarkozy are breaching of electoral law and abuse of person weakened by ill health, according to France 24.


[rebelmouse-image 27086522 alt=""sarkozy" original_size="500x375" expand=1]

Nicolas Sarkozy, Photo by busy.pochi

Sarkozy has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. The former president, who has recently expressed interest in relaunching a run for presidential in 2017, has seen his popularity ratings rise since he left office last year.

Sarkozy lost immunity from prosecution when he was defeated in his 2012 bid for reelection, and now could face three years in prison, a fine of 375,000 euros ($483,975) and a five-year exclusion from politics, reports France 24.

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Green

Fading Flavor: Production Of Saffron Declines Sharply

Saffron is well-known for its flavor and its expense. But in Kashmir, one of the flew places it grows, cultivation has fallen dramatically thanks for climate change, industry, and farming methods.

Photo of women harvesting saffron in Kashmir

Harvesting of Saffron in Kashmir

Mubashir Naik

In northern India along the bustling Jammu-Srinagar national highway near Pampore — known as the saffron town of Kashmir —people are busy picking up saffron flowers to fill their wicker baskets.

During the autumn season, this is a common sight in the Valley as saffron harvesting is celebrated like a festival in Kashmir. The crop is harvested once a year from October 21 to mid-November.

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