BORDEAUX, France Sept 24 A French appeals court
ruled on Tuesday that an investigation could proceed into former
president Nicolas Sarkozy for allegedly duping L'Oreal heiress
Liliane Bettencourt into donating election campaign funds, a
lawyer for her family said.
The decision means continued legal uncertainty for Sarkozy,
whose supporters would like to see him make a new bid for the
presidency in 2017. A final judgment in the case could take many
Sarkozy was placed under formal investigation in March for
allegedly exploiting the mental frailty of France's richest
woman after she was declared to be in a state of dementia, in
order to raise money for his 2007 election campaign.
The decision of the court to proceed with the investigation
was announced to reporters outside the court in the southwest
cit of Bordeaux by Nicolas Huc-Morel, the Bettencourt family
Sarkozy, a conservative who lost the May 2012 election to
Socialist Francois Hollande, has denied any misconduct.
Under French law, a formal investigation means there is
"serious or consistent evidence" pointing to likely implication
of a suspect in a crime. It often, but not always, leads to a
In July, lawyers for Sarkozy and 11 others placed under
investigation contested a medical report that determined in 2011
that Bettencourt had been suffering from dementia since 2006.
(Reporting by Claude Canellas; writing by Leigh Thomas and
Alexandria Sage; editing by Mark John)