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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Geopolitics

Taliban Redux, Cleaned-Up Image Can't Mask Their Cruel Reality

Twenty years later the Islamist group is back in power in Afghanistan, but trying this time to win international support. Now that several months have passed, experts on the ground can offer a clear assessment if the group has genuinely transformed on such issues as women's rights and free speech.

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The international community is closely monitoring the Taliban, after the group re-seized power in Afghanistan in August 2021.

There is legitimate reason for concern. The Taliban are again ruling through fear and draconian rules.

The Taliban’s last regime, in the mid-1990s, was marked by human rights violations, including massacres, mass detentions and rape. The regime collapsed on Nov. 14, 2001, shortly after the U.S. launched its global war on terrorism.

Even after the Taliban officially fell from power, their subsequent two decades of insurgency produced various gross human rights violations, an encompassing term under international human rights law.

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