French President Nicolas Sarkozy  Libyan leader Col. Muammar Gadhafi
French President Nicolas Sarkozy, left, greets Libyan leader Col. Muammar Gadhafi upon his arrival at the Elysee Palace, in Paris Dec. 10, 2007. Image Credit: AP

Paris: Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy will be tried in 2025 over allegations he took money from late Libyan dictator Muammar Gadhafi to fund one of his election campaigns, prosecutors said Friday.

The trial is set to hear explosive evidence that the rightwinger, along with 12 other co-defendants, conspired to take cash from the Libyan leader to illegally fund his victorious 2007 bid for the presidency.

Sarkozy, who has faced a litany of legal problems since his one term in office, denies the Libyan allegations - the most serious he faces.

The 68-year-old has already been convicted twice for corruption and influence-peddling in separate cases involving attempts to influence a judge and campaign financing.

Sarkozy has appealed against both judgements.

Among the others facing trial over the alleged Libyan corruption are heavyweights such as Sarkozy’s former right-hand man Claude Gueant, his then head of campaign financing Eric Woerth and former minister Brice Hortefeux.

The investigation was sparked by revelations from the investigative website Mediapart which published a document purporting to show that Gadhafi agreed to give Sarkozy up to 50 million euros ($54 million at current rates).

The two leaders enjoyed surprisingly cordial ties, with Sarkozy letting the Libyan strongman pitch his Bedouin tent opposite the Elysee Palace on a state visit to France just months after his election.

Sarkozy has been back in the news in recent weeks in France after publishing the second volume of his memoirs and suggesting that areas of Ukraine occupied by Russia after the Kremlin’s attack last year might need to be recognised as Russian.

He also said that the annexed region of Crimea would remain Russian and that “any return to the way things were before is an illusion.”

Sarkozy took a lead role in negotiating Russia’s partial withdrawal from Georgia after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s attack in 2008 and he and his prime minister, Francois Fillon, enjoyed friendly relations with the Kremlin leader.

Sarkozy faces a separate probe into possible potential influence-peddling after he received a payment by Russian insurance firm Reso-Garantia of three million euros in 2019 while working as a consultant.