Sarkozy had appealed to the council invoking the “double-jeopardy” principle because he had already been convicted in 2013 and ordered to pay more than 360,000 euros for breaching campaign-finance rules.
But in its decision on Friday, the council ruled that the penalty Sarkozy was ordered to pay in 2013 was for different violations and different amounts than the fraud he and 13 co-defendants are now being investigated for.
The case now hinges on the country’s top appeal court, the Cour de Cassation, where Sarkozy, 64, has lodged a separate appeal.
If that too is rejected, the case will return to prosecutors, who will decide whether he should be tried.
If he is, Sarkozy would be the first French president in the dock since Jacques Chirac, who preceded him at the helm of the country from 1995 to 2007.
Chirac was convicted of misusing public funds and given a suspended jail term in 2011.
The so-called “Bygmalion” case against Sarkozy centres on accusations that the former president’s political party, then known as the UMP, worked with a friendly public relations firm to hide the true cost of his re-election bid.
France sets strict limits on campaign spending. Prosecutors allege the PR firm, Bygmalion, invoiced UMP rather than the campaign, allowing Sarkozy to spend almost double the permitted amount.
Even though investigating magistrates found no evidence that Sarkozy set up the fraudulent system, took part in it or was even informed about it, they considered it unlikely that he had left it solely to staff to take decisions on such matters.
Sarkozy has denied any wrongdoing.
“We can only be disappointed by this decision,” Sarkozy’s lawyer Emmanuel Piwnica told LCI TV station.
After five years in power, Sarkozy was defeated by Socialist Party candidate Francois Hollande in the 2012 election.
Sarkozy has since faced a series of investigations into allegations of corruption, fraud, favoritism and campaign-funding irregularities.
Several feared trapped as six-storey building collapses in Kenya
Several people were injured and an unknown number are feared trapped after a six-storey residential building collapsed in an eastern suburb of the Kenyan capital of Nairobi on Friday.
“We do not have a figure yet,” Peter Abwao, Kenya Red Cross Communications Manager, said, adding that teams were still on the ground combing through the rubble.
No fatalities have been reported so far.
Television and amateur footage on social media has shown civilians carrying injured people away from the building, which now looks like a heap of flattened concrete layers.
Robert Mbuvi, a resident of Tassia Estate where the incident took place, said that the building had collapsed early this morning.
He said he had counted about “10 casualties in critical condition dislodged from the ruins and rushed to a hospital.”
The incident has sparked fresh outrage over shoddy construction in the city’s poorer suburbs.
In September, eight school pupils were killed and 57 injured after a classroom collapsed.
Prominent Kenyan blogger and activist Robert Alai said that inferior construction prevalent in Nairobi is the result of “impunity among landlords – many of them politically well-connected – who flout building regulations.”
Alai says residents of the collapsed building had recently expressed concerns about it but the relevant authorities had turned a deaf ear.
“Residents flagged the building three or four months ago when it started showing cracks, and nobody took note,” he said.
Edited & Vetted By: Fatima Sule/Emmanuel Yashim
China imposes restrictions against U.S. diplomats in latest tit-for-tat
China has announced new restrictions against U.S. diplomats in retaliation for a similar measure adopted by the U.S. in October, the latest move in a series of tit-for-tat measures between the two countries.
The Chinese government notified the U.S. Embassy in China about the new restrictions earlier this week, the Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, said on Friday.
She did not provide details about what the curbs entailed.
Chinese said diplomats working for the U.S. Embassy in China and the U.S. consulates would be required to notify the foreign ministry, five working days in advance if they planned to meet with local government officials or visit education or research institutions.
The move comes after the U.S. in October required Chinese officials to notify the State Department of planned meetings with local authorities and educational institutions.
Washington said at the time the measure was in response to Beijing limiting the access of U.S. diplomats to local authorities in China.
Tensions between the two countries have risen in recent weeks after the U.S. Congress passed several bills aimed at sanctioning Chinese officials over human rights abuses in China’s Xinjiang region and in Hong Kong.
Beijing has retaliated by sanctioning U.S. non-profits.
The stand-off is making it unlikely for trade negotiators on both sides to agree on a deal to end the countries’ protracted trade war, which is slowing the world economy.
Edited & Vetted By: Fatima Sule/Abdulfatah Babatunde
Pelosi asks House to draft articles of impeachment against Trump
The top Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives announced on Thursday she would ask leaders of the chamber to proceed with articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.
“Sadly, but with confidence and humility, with allegiance to our founders and our hearts full of love for America, today I am asking our chairman to proceed with articles of impeachment,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.
Trump’s actions with regard to military aid to Ukraine were in defiance of “the vision of our founders” and the oath of office he took, she asserted a day after three constitutional scholars told lawmakers they fully believed that Trump had committed actions that rise to the level of impeachable offences under the U.S. constitution.
Pelosi said their testimony left no doubt that the president’s actions “are a profound violation of the public trust” and seriously violated the constitution.
“Our democracy is what is at stake.
“The president leaves us no choice but to act because he is trying to corrupt once again the election for his own benefit,” Pelosi said.
A fourth expert, who was called by the Republicans to testify on Wednesday, disputed the claims, saying the evidence was not sufficient.
Trump reacted to Pelosi’s announcement on Twitter, saying the Democrats planned to “impeach me over NOTHING.”
Impeachment is a “seldom used act” and their action could mean that it will be used routinely to attack future presidents, he said.
U.S. President Donald Trump
“That is not what our Founders had in mind.
“The good thing is that the Republicans have NEVER been more united. We will win!,” he tweeted.
Trump is accused of abusing the power of his office by running a “pressure campaign” involving members of his inner circle to coerce Ukraine into digging up dirt on his domestic political rival, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, ahead of elections next year.
He allegedly made the announcement of an investigation into Biden’s son, who served on the board of the energy company Burisma, a condition of granting Ukraine’s newly elected president Volodymyr Zelensky a meeting at the White House and releasing the military aid.
“The facts are clear. The constitution is clear. The president violated the constitution.
“If we were not to proceed it would say to any president, any future president, whoever she or he may be, Democratic or Republican, that our democracy is gone,” Pelosi reiterated to the audience.
A House vote on articles of impeachment would send the matter to the Republican-controlled Senate, where a trial of the president would be held with Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts officiating. A two-thirds majority would have to vote in favour to remove the president from office.
Republicans say there is insufficient evidence that Trump committed an impeachable offence and that Democrats leading the impeachment inquiry have let their emotions and hatred of Trump cloud their judgement.
Wednesday’s hearing took place as Trump concluded a NATO summit in London.
Earlier on Thursday, he implored Democrats to move forward with impeachment quickly “so we can have a fair trial in the Senate, and so that our Country can get back to business.”
Edited & Vetted By: Emmanuel Yashim
29 people die as South Sudan clans clash over Nile Island
At least 29 people were killed in South Sudan on Thursday when two rival clans clashed over the ownership of an island on the Nile river.
An Area coordinator, Joseph Deng Mawaat told dpa that the early-morning clash also left nearly 20 people injured.
The clash involved clans from the states of Eastern Lakes and Jonglei with both claiming ownership of the island, which is strategic as a docking site for boats.
Tribal clashes are common in the East African country, which gained independence from Sudan in 2011.
An ensuing civil war left hundreds of thousands dead and millions of people displaced.
Edited & Vetted By: Hadiza Mohammed/Emmanuel Yashim
Crowds hit streets as French pension strike stalls transport
Protesters took to the streets around France on Thursday as a strike against President Emmanuel Macron’s pension reform plans hit public transport and air traffic.
The Gare de Lyon railway station in Paris was all but deserted in the Monday rush hour, with the departure board showing just seven trains scheduled to leave between then and 6:53 pm (1753 GMT).
State railway company SNCF said only one in 10 long-distance trains would be running, while most of the Paris metro’s 16 lines were either shut down or offering a minimum peak-hour only service.
Many schools have closed, with the Education Ministry saying almost half the country’s teachers had joined the strike.
Junior transport minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari said 20 to 30 per cent of flights had also been cancelled.
Civil aviation authorities said 20 per cent of flights would also have to be cancelled on Friday.
The Eiffel Tower closed for the day, as did the Musee d’Orsay modern art gallery, where an Australian tourist who gave his name as Frank told dpa he’d come there to show his son the museum.
“It’s closed, we’re very disappointed,” he said.
Chinese and Japanese tourists meanwhile struggled to understand the notice about the closure, which was written only in French, English and Spanish.
Outside the closed Opera metro station in central Paris, an Argentinian tourist waiting with a suitcase said she was looking for a bus to the airport.
“I hope my plane will take off,” she added.
With Paris workers encouraged to work from home or use ride-sharing apps and e-scooters, the two working metro lines were not exceptionally busy.
A monitoring site showed road traffic around Paris well below normal.
Paris police ordered shops along the route of a trade union march to close with the march getting under way in the afternoon.
Police chief Didier Lallement said that 6,000 officers would be deployed to secure the protest.
Officers had checked 6,476 people and arrested 65, according to police.
The capital’s last major trade union march, the traditional May Day parade, degenerated into clashes when radical protesters threw missiles at police who responded with charges and copious tear gas.
The hardline CGT trade union accused police at the time of not distinguishing in their response between the radicals and peaceful protesters.
Macron is seeking to implement a campaign promise to replace France’s more than 40 pension schemes with a single universal system that would, he argued, treat all workers equally.
Public transport and public hospital staff are particularly worried about the pension reform plans as they currently benefit from early retirement rights that are likely to be phased out.
Initial proposals suggest that early retirement regimes similar to those currently in place will be kept only for the security forces, firefighters and sailors.
CGT leader Philippe Martinez said that Macron’s pension reform would “worsen inequality,” as the new system would be based on whole-career earnings without making allowances for individual or career-related circumstances.
Where public sector workers enjoy earlier retirement rights than people in similar jobs in the private sector, those rights should be extended to all rather than abolished for all, he told RMC radio.
Djebbari acknowledged that the strike could drag on for days.
The Elysee meanwhile said that Macron was following the situation “closely, with calm and determination.”
Edited & Vetted By: Emmanuel Yashim
Indian rape victim set on fire on her way to court
Police on Thursday said that a 23-year-old woman, who was allegedly raped was set on fire while going to court in northern India, and is currently battling for her life.
The Police added that the woman in Uttar Pradesh state’s Unnao district was on her way to attend a hearing in the case she filed against two men in March.
State police chief OP Singh said in the regional capital Lucknow that five men, including the alleged rapists, were arrested hours later in connection with the attack.
However, senior police officer SN Sabat said that doctors treating the woman said that her condition was critical as she had suffered 70-per cent burn injuries.
Sabat said she would be flown in an air ambulance to New Delhi for better medical care.
“We saw her coming toward us, screaming for help. She had been set on fire. We were scared.
“She had walked for nearly one kilometre before she reached us,’’ an eye witness said.
The latest incident would only add to outrage in India over violence against women, after a 27-year-old veterinary doctor was raped and set on fire near Hyderabad city on Nov. 27.
Protests were held in Indian cities after her charred remains were found by the police.
Despite stricter laws and measures to increase security since the gang-rape and murder of another young woman on a bus in New Delhi in December 2012, a high number of such crimes continue to be reported in India.
According to the latest government data available, 33,658 women and girls were raped in India in 2017.
Edited & Vetted By: Hadiza Mohammed/Emmanuel Yashim
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