The Province

Gadhafi bankrolled Sarkozy in 2007 ex-libyan PM says

Al-mahmudi lawyers release claim

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TUNIS — Moammar Gadhafi’s regime funded French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s 2007 election campaign, lawyers for former Libyan prime minister Baghdadi al-mahmudi said Thursday, quoting their client.

“Moammar Gadhafi, his regime and the officials who worked with him financed Sarkozy’s election campaign in 2007,” lawyer Bechir Essed told reporters in Tunis, where Mahmudi is detained, mentioning the sum of some $65 million.

Essed’s claims came after the French Mediapart website published a document on Saturday which, it said, showed Libya’s financing of Sarkozy’s campaign.

Sarkozy has angrily dismissed Mediapart’s document as a deliberate forgery timed to destabiliz­e his re-election campaign and is taking legal action against the website.

According to Essed, the deal was concluded by former Libyan intelligen­ce chief Mussa Kussa on the instructio­ns of Gadhafi and that “documents proving the transactio­n exist.”

Another lawyer for Mahmudi, who is facing two demands for extraditio­n to Tripoli, confirmed the claim, adding that his client believes Sarkozy is behind his detention in Tunisia.

“My arrest and my detention in Tunisia were instigated by the French president so that the details of the financing of his 2007 campaign are not revealed,” Mahmudi said, according to his lawyer Mabrouk Kourchid.

Lawyers for Mediapart urged French prosecutor­s to demand access to mahmudi on the vote funding allegation­s.

Mahmudi is a “key witness” and risks an unjust trial and “quick summary execution” in Libya, lawyers Jean-pierre Mignard and Emmanual Tordjman said, making a call against his extraditio­n to Libya.

A Tunisian court in February cleared Mahmudi of crossing illegally into Tunisia as he fled Libya last year, but kept him in prison.

Kourchid said he had been admitted to hospital on Wednesday after suffering a hemorrhage.

Mediapart on Saturday posted what it said was a 2006 document signed by Kussa referring to an “agreement in principle to support the 2007 campaign for the candidate for the presidenti­al elections, Nicolas Sarkozy, for a sum equivalent to 50 million euros.”

Sarkozy, who faces a tough secondroun­d vote on Sunday against Socialist candidate Francois Hollande in his bid to win a second presidenti­al term, quickly dismissed it as a “crude forgery.”

Libya’s National Transition­al Council (NTC), successors of Gadhafi’s ousted regime, said the note was thought to be a fake, and Kussa from exile in Doha also dismissed the document.

Essed said Mahmudi was bitter at “the ingratitud­e of Sarkozy, who in return was the first to send NATO forces to Libya” to aid the rebellion against Gadhafi.

He refused to comment on the Mediapart report, but said the transactio­n was carried out by Libya’s sovereign wealth fund headed by Bashir Saleh, who is currently in France.

The NTC on Wednesday urged France to extradite Saleh, who it says is the subject of a red notice by Interpol.

French officials have said Saleh was in France under a “diplomatic passport from Niger,” but officials in Niger said he no longer had such a passport.

Saleh has also denied being the recipient of the letter published by Mediapart, according to his French lawyer.

 ?? — GETTY IMAGES ?? Nicolas Sarkozy, France’s incumbent president and candidate for the 2012 French presidenti­al election, campaigns in Toulon on Thursday.
— GETTY IMAGES Nicolas Sarkozy, France’s incumbent president and candidate for the 2012 French presidenti­al election, campaigns in Toulon on Thursday.

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