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Nicolas Sarkozy ordered to stand trial over campaign finances

(FILES) This file photo taken on April 25, 2012 in Boulogne-Billancourt, near Paris, shows former French president, Nicolas Sarkozy waiting before a prime time evening news broadcast at the TF1 Television studios as part of his campaign for the 2012 presidential election. Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy is to face trial over the allegedly fraudulent financing of his doomed 2012 bid for re-election, a legal source told AFP on February 7, 2017. Sarkozy's lawyer, Thierry Herzog, said he will appeal the judge's decision. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / CHARLES PLATIAUCHARLES PLATIAU/AFP/Getty Images
CHARLES PLATIAU/AFP/Getty Images/file 2012
Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy.

PARIS — Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy has been ordered by a judge to stand trial on charges of illegally financing his failed 2012 reelection campaign, the Paris prosecutor’s office said Tuesday, the latest impediment for a politician who not long ago was hoping for a comeback.

Sarkozy, 62, a mercurial right-wing politician who was president of France from 2007 to 2012, has denied any wrongdoing. His lawyer said he would appeal the decision, after which the case would be referred to another court for a final ruling.

Sarkozy is out of the running for presidential elections this spring after a poor showing in a November primary for the center and right candidates, and he no longer leads the center-right Republican Party.

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His diminished role in French politics would limit the fallout from a trial, but the judge’s decision comes amid growing anger against the political establishment and reflects increased scrutiny of its financial and personal arrangements.

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François Fillon, Sarkozy’s former prime minister and the Republican presidential candidate, is bearing the brunt of the current outrage after revelations that he used taxpayer money to pay family members for parliamentary work that might not have been genuine.

In Sarkozy’s case, the prosecution asserts that he knowingly authorized his 2012 campaign to surpass the strict spending limits set by French law.

Sarkozy tried a political comeback last year, steering his primary campaign rightward and hoping that the French electorate would look past his legal entanglements.