France's Sarkozy questioned over illegal campaign fund claims
November 23, 2012 -- Updated 0227 GMT (1027 HKT)
Policemen guard a Bordeaux courthouse where former French president Nicolas Sarkozy is due to appear.
- NEW: Former President Nicolas Sarkozy questioned over funding for his 2007 campaign
- L'Oreal cosmetics heiress Liliane Bettencourt is suspected of illegally helping him
- Bettencourt, 90, is France's richest woman
- Sarkozy's former labor minister Eric Woerth and others have also faced scrutiny
Paris (CNN) -- Nicolas Sarkozy may be breathing a bit easier after authorities on Thursday decided not to pursue a formal investigation against the former French president, but rather to treat him as what officials described as a "witness-under-caution."
The phrase is a technical term that essentially allows a French magistrate to continue to call the former leader to the witness stand in the case over whether L'Oreal cosmetics heiress Liliane Bettencourt and her staff illegally helped him during his 2007 presidential campaign.
Sarkozy still faces the possibility of criminal charges stemming from allegedly illicit campaign donations.
Read more: Attorney: Sarkozy's home, offices raided
Nicolas Sarkozy concedes election
Judge Jean-Michel Gentil questioned the former French leader on Thursday for 12 hours concerning evidence given by 90-year-old Bettencourt's former accountant, Claire Thibout, CNN affiliate BFM-TV reports.
The Bettencourt scandal has fascinated France since questions about the finances of France's richest woman emerged last year amid a family feud.
Read more: Why Sarko lost: Personality or policy?
Among the matters probed by investigators were allegations that secret, possibly illegal payments were made to French politicians, including Sarkozy; Eric Woerth, his former labor minister; and members of his party, the Union for a Popular Movement, known as UMP.
Sarkozy lost the diplomatic immunity he held as president when he failed in his re-election bid in May.
CNN's Pierre Meilhan and Laura Smith-Spark contributed to this report.
Part of complete coverage on
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1526 GMT (2326 HKT)
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0009 GMT (0809 HKT)
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1801 GMT (0201 HKT)
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1548 GMT (2348 HKT)
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0507 GMT (1307 HKT)
As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1215 GMT (2015 HKT)
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0006 GMT (0806 HKT)
Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1237 GMT (2037 HKT)
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 2327 GMT (0727 HKT)
It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.
Today's five most popular stories