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September 24, 2017

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Government denies meddling in Sarkozy case

PARIS -- France's Socialist government on Thursday rejected claims it was using the justice system for political ends after ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy accused his enemies of being behind corruption charges.

Charged with three corruption-related counts on Wednesday, the right-winger angrily hit back in a televised interview, denying he broke the law and denouncing "political interference" in the case.

Sarkozy insisted his political career was not over, but an opinion poll released Thursday showed nearly two-thirds of French voters against a comeback by the conservative who ran France from 2007 to 2012.

"The judiciary is independent, there is no longer any intervention," government spokesman Stephane Le Foll told Europe 1 radio.

"Some people have a hard time believing this, for reasons I don't want to comment on," Le Foll said, in a reference to left-wing allegations that Sarkozy's government unduly influenced the justice system.

By accusing the judiciary of bias, including singling out one judge in the case, Sarkozy "is trying to divert public attention to politics, conspiracies or who knows what," Socialist Party leader Jean-Christophe Cambadelis said.

Two in Three French Voters against Sarkozy Comeback: Poll

Nearly two French voters in three are against a political comeback by conservative ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy, who has been hit with charges of corruption and influence peddling, a survey released Thursday showed.

The BFMTV poll of more than 1,000 adults, conducted over Tuesday and Wednesday, showed 65 percent of voters were against Sarkozy trying to regain the post he lost to current President Francois Hollande in 2012.

However 72 percent of supporters of Sarkozy's UMP party backed a return of the 59-year-old former head of state, the poll showed.

Sarkozy on Wednesday was charged with corruption and influence peddling in one of several legal cases he is embroiled in, dealing a disastrous blow to his likely ambition of soon declaring himself a candidate in France's 2017 presidential election.

He took to French airwaves late Wednesday to claim that he was a victim of "political interference" and that he never broke the law.

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