EU parliament lifts immunity for Sarkozy aide
The European Parliament on Tuesday lifted the immunity of a French lawmaker wanted for questioning by judges over a scandal relating to the funding of former president Nicolas Sarkozy’s 2012 presidential campaign.
In an overwhelming majority show of hands, the parliament in Strasbourg, France responded to the request of the French judges and lifted the immunity of Jerome Lavrilleux, the former deputy director of Sarkozy’s campaign.
“I myself voted to have my immunity lifted. I had said since last May that I would not hide behind my immunity to shirk my responsibilities,” Lavrilleux told reporters.
“I’m available to answer all questions the judges would like to ask,” he added.
French judges are investigating PR firm Bygmalion, which is accused of falsifying invoices for staging Sarkozy events, billing the conservative UMP party instead of the Sarkozy campaign.
The alleged fraud was supposedly carried out to circumvent strict caps on campaign spending.
Lavrilleux dropped the bombshell in May last year that campaign spending was passed off as party conferences through sham invoices.
He has said that neither Sarkozy nor then UMP chief Jean-Francois Cope knew of the scheme.
However, caught up in the scandal, Cope later resigned from the party leadership.
Last November Sarkozy was elected UMP leader despite his legal woes.
Although undeclared, Sarkozy is on the hunt to grab back the keys of the Elysee Palace from the man who beat him in 2012, the now deeply unpopular Socialist President Francois Hollande.