Sarkozy, Gaddafi: The story that won’t die

02072014HER-MAI-HAR-10Hildegarde The Arena
IT’S official! Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who has been planning a political comeback looks like he is in BIG trouble. He tried to run from the long arm of the law, but he could not hide.
According to France’s Prime Minister Manuel Valls, Sarkozy’s case is a “serious situation, (and) the facts are serious.” He faces up to five years in jail if he is found guilty.

In a drama full of twists and intrigue, on Tuesday July 1, Sarkozy, together with his lawyer and a “high-ranking judge”, were placed under formal investigation in a corruption probe.

Sarkozy was detained for a record 15 hours and questioned “in connection with a probe into influence-peddling and other crimes in connection with a probe into alleged misdeeds in the financing of his 2007 election campaign”.

According to France24, “Investigators are seeking to establish whether Sarkozy, with the help of his lawyer, attempted to pervert the course of justice by seeking to obtain inside information from a magistrate about a probe into alleged misdeeds in the financing of his 2007 election campaign.”

French police believe that Sarkozy might have been “tipped off that his mobile phone had been tapped by judges looking into allegations that his 2007 election campaign had been financed in part by former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. Sarkozy has denied the claims that he received up to US$70 million at the time from Gaddafi.”

Although French politicians from Jacque Chirac, Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Christine Lagarde are no strangers to being questioned by police, reports on the Sarkozy case state that this is a first for French police to hold a former head of state in custody, for more than half a day.

The dramatic touch also revolves around wire-tapping, which is currently a hot topic even in Zimbabwe.

Reports say that, “judges last year obtained the unprecedented authorisation to tap the phones of a former president in connection with the Gaddafi investigation, which is ongoing. Investigators eventually discovered that Sarkozy had a secret phone registered under an assumed name. It was conversations with Herzog recorded on that device that triggered the investigation.”

Now, imagine for a moment how Western nations would have reacted if this had happened in countries like Zimbabwe. It would have been labelled undemocratic, interference with the justice system, persecution, muzzling private citizens’ freedoms of speech and association and more.

Western leaders would have been at the forefront in denouncing the 15-hour detention and questioning of a former head of state, but they are conspicuous by their silence.

There would have been calls to leave Sarkozy alone. That’s democracy for you. That’s human rights and Western-style justice — being rabble-rousers in order to protect permanent interests.

It is also interesting to note how some Western citizens are so concerned about the phone tapping, and not the allegation arising from the wire-tapping: that Sarkozy might have had his first presidential bid funded by a man they said was a dictator —Muammar Gaddafi.

Their arguments are also blinkered as they do not question why that election campaign required US$70 million, and if indeed he got the money, whether it was all channelled towards the election campaign, or the funds could also have been abused.

Now that the shoe is on the other foot, what are we going to call it considering that the monies that Sarkozy is being investigated for are Libyan funds? Should Libya request that they be part of the investigation team? And that the money be paid back to the Libyan people?

If Sarkozy is found on the wrong side on the law, should he be tried in France or Libya or at the International Criminal Court since Africa has maintained that the Libyan rebels that toppled and murdered Gaddafi with the assistance of nato forces committed crimes against humanity?

Some think this is unimaginable, but the likes of Sarkozy did not only want the former Libyan leader dead. They have been advocating for his son Saif al-Islam, who first alerted the international community that Sarkozy had received campaign funding from his father, to be tried for crimes against humanity at The Hague. If the United States of America in June sent commandos into Libya to raid and capture one of the suspected ringleaders of the 2012 terrorist attacks at its consulate in Benghazi, why shouldn’t Libya seek its pound of flesh?

When I wrote “Gaddafi: A dead man walking” on October 24, 2012 I never anticipated that things would be moving so fast, considering how Sarkozy has been denying that he had received election funding from Gaddafi. The piece reads in part: Maybe I should have called it “When a dead man has the last laugh”, but since he is dead, let him be a dead man walking. He has been dead one year (now two and half years), but his death continues to cause sleepless nights in Tripoli, Paris, London and Washington DC.

If those affected by his death came from this part of Africa, they would have realised the wisdom of consulting village elders. More precisely, why is the Libyan leader’s death still haunting not only Libyans but also nato allies that were behind his demise?

The former French leader would have also been told that in Shona what is happening to him could be “mashiripiti engozi” (the wonders of an avenging spirit).

Sarkozy might continue to say that the allegations levelled against him are politically motivated, for the French political system seems very good at that, but only time will tell!

For now though, it looks like the dead Gaddafi will not die any time soon to allow Sarkozy to have some peace.

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