For­mer French pres­i­dent as­so­ciate faces Jan­uary UK ex­tra­di­tion hear­ing

Global Times US Edition - - WORLD -

A key fig­ure ar­rested in Britain as part of a cam­paign fi­nance probe in France into for­mer pres­i­dent Ni­co­las Sarkozy on Mon­day had his ex­tra­di­tion hear­ing set for Jan­uary.

French in­ves­ti­ga­tors want to ques­tion Alexan­dre Djouhri over the al­leged il­le­gal fi­nanc­ing of Ni­co­las Sarkozy’s 2007 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion cam­paign by for­mer Libyan leader Moamer Kad­hafi.

Djouhri will face a four-day hear­ing at West­min­ster Mag­is­trates Court in Lon­don from Jan­uary 21 to 24. His lawyers sought to have his bail con­di­tions eased but judge Vanessa Baraitser, hear­ing the case at the court, re­fused.

Djouhri was ex­cused at­ten­dance for the 40-minute case man­age­ment hear­ing.

The ex­tra­di­tion hear­ing will be the next time that the case ap­pears be­fore the court.

Out­stand­ing de­fense ev­i­dence must be sub­mit­ted by Novem­ber 16, with the French au­thor­i­ties to re­spond by De­cem­ber 7 and all the doc­u­ments in the case to be brought to­gether by De­cem­ber 14.

Five wit­nesses were be­ing lined up to give ev­i­dence in Djouhri’s de­fense, in­clud­ing a doc­tor, the court heard.

Djouhri was de­tained at Lon­don Heathrow Air­port in Jan­uary un­der a Euro­pean ar­rest war­rant.

French in­ves­ti­ga­tors are ex­am­in­ing the busi­ness­man’s al­leged in­volve­ment in the 2009 sale of a villa in the French Alps for around 10 mil­lion eu­ros.

A Libyan in­vest­ment fund man­aged by Kad­hafi’s ex-chief of staff Bashir Saleh bought the prop­erty at a “very in­flated” price, and Djouhri is sus­pected of be­ing its true owner, a source close to the in­quiry has told AFP.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors also sus­pect he helped Saleh get out of France in early 2012, in a pri­vate jet headed for Niger, as he faced a Libyan ar­rest war­rant a few months af- ter Kad­hafi’s over­throw.

Djouhri was re­leased on bail on health grounds in Fe­bru­ary af­ter suf­fer­ing from heart prob­lems.

He un­der­went surgery ear­lier this year, a source close to the case pre­vi­ously told AFP.

A planned in­ter­view with French ju­di­cial of­fi­cials last month did not take place.

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