Nicolas Sarkozy was plunged into yet another corruption scandal today following allegations that he tried to interfere in an arms sales enquiry while president of France.
The 57-year-old is said to have violated a confidentiality law when dealing with the so-called 'Karachi Affair'.
It involves a 2002 terrorist bombing in the Pakistani city that killed 11 French engineers - allegedly because kickbacks over submarine sales by France to Pakistan had not been paid.
Money linked to the arms deals is said to have been used to help fund the 1995 presidential election campaign of former French prime minister Édouard Balladur - a campaign for which Mr Sarkozy was spokesman.
In September 2011, the then President Sarkozy issued a statement saying that he was not being investigated in relation to the Karachi Affair.
The engineers' families sued Mr Sarkozy over the press release, saying it violated laws that prohibit the publication of information about on-going investigations.
Mr Sarkozy enjoyed presidential immunity from prosecution at the time, but three judges have now ruled that he should be investigated for allegedly interfering in the Karachi probe.
'The act of permitting the release of information concerning on-going investigations does not enter into the functions of the president,' the three judges said in their own official ruling.
Two former close aides to Sarkozy have already been charged by judges investigating the alleged Karachi kickbacks.
Mr Sarkozy allegedly authorised the creation of a shell company used to channel kickbacks to Mr Balladur.
It is the latest legal headache for Mr Sarkozy, who has already been made an assisted witness in the so-called Bettencourt Affair - in which he is accused of accepting illegal cash from France's richest women to fund his 2007 election as president.
Mr Sarkozy is said to have accepted brown envelopes full of cash from Liliane Bettencourt, the l'Oreal heiress.
The home Sarkozy shares with his third wife, supermodel Carla Bruni, was raided by anti-corruption police within weeks of him losing the presidency to Socialist Francois Hollande in May. Sarkozy denies all of the charges against him.
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