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Lebanon has detained a Lebanese-French businessman who was close to former French president Nicolas Sarkozy after receiving a request for his arrest from Interpol, a judicial source told AFP Friday. 

Ziad Takieddine

“Internal security forces have detained (Ziad) Takieddine, based on an arrest warrant Interpol sent the public prosecution, over him being wanted by the French authorities over involvement in corruption and funding Sarkozy’s campaign,” the source said.

Takieddine was once the main accuser in an inquiry into suspected Libyan financing of Sarkozy’s 2007 election campaign.

The businessman was investigated in late 2016 after he told the press he had delivered millions of euros in cash from Libyan dictator Moamer Kadhafi.

Sarkozy caught a break last month when Takieddine suddenly retracted his claim.

The 70-year-old businessman fled to Beirut after a French court in June condemned him to five years in jail in a separate case involving millions of euros in kickbacks from arms sales to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia signed in 1994.

The judicial source said Takieddine was being questioned by the security forces under a judge’s supervision and would be transferred to the general prosecution for further investigation on Monday.

If the charges against him were found to be justified, he could be tried in Lebanon as a Lebanese citizen, or extradited to France, the source said.

On Thursday, former French interior minister Claude Gueant was charged with being part of a criminal conspiracy in the case over Libyan funding.

Gueant was Sarkozy’s right-hand man while the right-winger was interior minister from 2005 to 2007 and then president from 2007 to 2012. 

Gueant held the interior portfolio in 2011-12.

Sarkozy himself is currently on trial for corruption in a separate affair.

Takieddine spent two weeks in jail in Lebanon from October 26 to November 10 as part of a disagreement with his former lawyer Hani Mourad, then was released.

( AFP/ FRANCE24)

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