PARIS — Former president Nicolas Sarkozy of France was in police custody Tuesday, apparently under questioning in an investigation linked to allegations that he took $50 million in illegal campaign funds from Libya’s Moammar Khadafy.
But the shocking detention and sordid case might not torpedo Sarkozy’s chances at a presidential comeback.
A political survivor who has been touring the world with his singer wife, Sarkozy, 59, is still among the most popular politicians in France despite a pile of investigations that target him.
He has not been convicted and remains well known on the international stage.
And he may be his troubled conservative party’s best chance to regain the presidency in 2017, after losing it to Socialist Francois Hollande in 2012.
An official said Sarkozy was detained for questioning Tuesday at the headquarters of the judicial police in the Paris suburb of Nanterre. The official, who was not authorized to be named while discussing an ongoing investigation, would not elaborate. French police, prosecutors, and other judicial officials would not provide details.
Sarkozy could be held up to 24 hours, which could be extended for another day.
After questioning, he could be released without charge, named as a witness in the case, or handed preliminary charges.
French media say Sarkozy is being questioned in an investigation linked to financing for his 2007 presidential campaign, notably allegations that Khadafy gave Sarkozy illegal campaign donations.
The French daily Le Monde, which has covered the case closely, says the questioning centers around whether Sarkozy and his lawyer, Thierry Herzog, were kept informed about the investigation by a magistrate, Gilbert Azibert.