Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy to stand trial over campaign financing

A judge ordered former French President Nicolas Sarkozy to stand trial for allegedly falsifying accounts to hide his party spent about $20 million more than allowed in his failed 2012 re-election campaign.

The case was originally opened in 2014 when a media investigation found that Sarkozy had surpassed the 22.5 million euro ($24 million) spending cap on his presidential campaign for an election he lost to Socialist Party candidate Francois Hollande, the incumbent President.

Sarkozy's lawyer Thierry Herzog has described the trial as ridiculous and said he would lodge an appeal against it.

Sarkozy failed in a fresh presidential bid late past year, with rival Francois Fillon chosen as candidate for the centre right Republicains.

Mr Sarkozy and 13 others will go to court to answer allegations that his presidential campaign spending went above the legal limit of £19.4 million.

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Sarkozy's former deputy campaign manager, Jerome Lavrilleux has insisted that Mr Sarkozy was unaware of the "anomalies".

"The clear disagreement between the two magistrates in charge of the matter is such a rare event that it is worth underlining, as it illustrates the inanity of the decision", Herzog said in a statement. In September 2011, Jacques Chirac was given a two-year suspended prison sentence for his role in a fake jobs scandal 15 years earlier, when he was mayor of Paris.

Mr Sarkozy is the second French president to be put on trial since 1958, when the current French republic was established.

Sarkozy, who was defeated by Francois Fillon in November's Les Republicans party primary, is embroiled in several legal fights.

  • Sonia Alvarado