A top French court on Friday rejected an appeal by former president Nicolas Sarkozy to avoid facing charges of illicit financing for his failed 2012 re-election bid, with a trial of the ex-head of state now appearing inevitable.
Prosecutors claim Sarkozy spent nearly 43 million euros (USD 51 million) on his lavish re-election bid -- almost double the legal limit of 22.5 million euros -- using fake invoices, and demanded he answer the charges in court.
Sarkozy's lawyers appealed to the Constitutional Council, which rules on the admissibility of laws and legal rulings, arguing that he had already paid a financial penalty for the overspending.
But that ruling concerned just 364,000 euros of overspending in the campaign, and came before revelations of the "Bygmalion affair" and fake billings.
On Friday, the Constitutional Council ruled that a criminal trial was justified on the grounds that it concerned "the potential breach of probity by candidates or elected officials." "It's a big disappointment," one of Sarkozy's lawyers, Emmanuel Piwnica, told AFP.
He would be the second former French head of state to face trial since the founding of the Fifth Republic in 1958.
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