Paris (AFP)

Key figure in the Libyan financing affair, the intermediary Alexandre Djouhri, claimed for years by French justice, arrived Thursday at Roissy airport and should be presented within 24 hours to French anticorruption magistrates with a view to his indictment.

The Franco-Algerian businessman, at the heart of the investigation into suspicions of Libyan funding for Nicolas Sarkozy's presidential campaign in 2007, was handed over to the French judicial authorities when he got off the plane, coming from London, we learned from judicial and police sources, confirming BFMTV.

Alexandre Djouhri, 60, was on Thursday evening at the police station on the border of the Paris airport.

Contacted by AFP, his French lawyers were not immediately available.

He was arrested in January 2018 at London airport, under European arrest warrants issued by French justice, notably for "embezzlement of public funds" and "corruption".

Hospitalized after a series of heart accidents, the businessman was placed under house arrest in the British capital after having paid 1.13 million euros in bail.

After two years of legal battle, a British court confirmed on January 22 the decision, rendered in February 2019 by the court of Westminster, to hand it over to France.

A few days later, his lawyer in England told AFP his client's intention to go to France by himself to "vehemently contest the procedure".

Alexandre Djouhri is eagerly awaited by French magistrates who wish to indict him, the investigations having revealed several suspicious financial flows implicating him in the Libyan case.

The name of this friend of former Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin then of Claude Guéant, ex-minister of Nicolas Sarkozy, appeared in the investigation for the sale in 2009 of a villa located in Mougins, on the Côte- d'Azur, to a Libyan fund managed by Bachir Saleh, a former dignitary of the Gaddafi regime.

He is suspected of having been, behind several nominees, the true owner and of having sold it at an overvalued price, making it possible to hide possible hidden payments from the regime.

"It is imagination and machination, I have never had a villa as a nominee and I have never sold a villa to Bachir Saleh", he defended himself last March on LCI.

- "Persecution" -

During a search of his home in Geneva in March 2015, the discovery of an RIB in the name of Mr. Guéant, had also intrigued the magistrates.

They suspect the right arm of Nicolas Sarkozy to have received 500,000 euros to compensate various interventions in favor of Mr. Djouhri, in particular with EADS (now Airbus group) from whom the businessman would have claimed several million d commission for a sale of planes to Libya.

Claude Guéant has always maintained that this sum was the fruit of the sale of two paintings of Flemish painting.

Unable to hear the elusive "Monsieur Alexandre", his nickname in the political world, the magistrates had decided to issue a first arrest warrant in December 2017, supplemented by new charges in February 2018, after his arrest.

But Mr. Djouhri, who has repeatedly denounced "political" justice and "persecution", disputes the validity of the arrest warrants. The question must also be debated on March 19 before the Paris Court of Appeal.

His defense claims that Swiss law did not compel this Swiss resident to go to France. And that the informal summons of the investigators, by e-mail and by phone in July 2016, did not respect the procedure.

"They made a search (at his home, note), they found absolutely nothing so they invented a leak to be able to arrest me in London," he said at the end of the court in February 2019.

Testimonies of Libyan dignitaries, notes from the Tripoli secret services, accusations of an intermediary ... After six years of work, a sum of disturbing evidence has given substance to the thesis of funding by the Gaddafi regime Nicolas Sarkozy's victorious presidential campaign.

But no material evidence has been found, even if suspicious movements of funds have led to eight indictments to date, in the forefront of which Nicolas Sarkozy, his former ministers Claude Guéant, Eric Woerth.

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