Sarkozy judge mistook hostage for billionaire: Lawyer
PARIS (REUTERS) - A judge investigating Nicolas Sarkozy's campaign funding mistook a Colombian hostage for a billionaire backer of France's right-wing party when he queried a meeting in the ex-president's diary, a lawyer for Mr Sarkozy said.
Mr Sarkozy, who lost power in May, was questioned for 12 hours on Thursday by a judge who is trying to establish whether his election win in 2007 was aided by illegal funding from France's richest woman, 90-year-old Liliane Bettencourt.
Rather than Ms Bettencourt, daughter of the founder of the L'Oreal cosmetics empire, the diary entry referred to the Franco-Colombian Ingrid Betancourt, who was held hostage in Colombia for six years and freed in 2007, lawyer Thierry Herzog told French radio.
Mr Herzog said judge Jean-Michel Gentil had made a note reading "name spelt wrongly" next to the name "Betancourt" on a list of Mr Sarkozy's appointments, implying that he had believed the meeting was with the L'Oreal heiress, but eventually acknowledged his mistake.