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By Gerd Roth, dpa

PARIS — Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy was detained for questioning Tuesday by French anti-corruption officials as part of an investigation into whether he bribed a judge to help him with his legal troubles.

It marks the first time a former French president has ever been detained by police. Sarkozy lost his legal immunity when he stepped down from the presidency after his defeat to Francois Hollande in 2012.

An anonymous source in the courts confirmed the detention. Sarkozy could be held at the facility in Nanterre, near Paris, for up to 24 hours.

Sarkozy, 59, was already questioned once at the start of the year in connection with the case. There have been allegations that he secured a job for a prominent French judge as a government adviser in Monaco. According to the charges, the judge then helped Sarkozy in another legal matter in exchange.

Sarkozy’s calendar has been pored over as part of the investigation. Sarkozy has denied all allegations and has likened the months of surveillance he has been subjected to by investigators as akin to government conduct in communist East Germany.

Sarkozy’s lawyer was detained in relation to the case on Monday and has yet to be released. The judge at the center of the case has yet to be questioned, too. The judge’s lawyer said he hopes that his client can soon be released.

President for one term, from 2007 to 2012, there had been rumors that Sarkozy might return as the presidential candidate for his center-right Union for a Popular Movement party in 2017, as no natural leader has emerged due to party infighting following its loss to the Socialists in 2012.

In addition to the bribery charges, there here have been long-running investigations surrounding possible illegal financing of Sarkozy’s election campaigns.

AFP Photo / Valery Hache

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