Following his 15-hour detainment and questioning by police, French ex-president Nicholas Sarkozy was placed under formal investigation on Tuesday night, according to the BBC and Reuters. Sarkozy was detained as part of an investigation into, among other things, his alleged attempts to trade his influence for knowledge about a separate investigation into his 2007 campaign funding.
Perhaps because of differing translations, there were some seemingly conflicting early reports on whether Sarkozy was actually charged today or not. Although the AFP's initial report uses the word "charged" to describe Sarkozy's gradual descent into the justice system, the BBC's report seems to clarify that Sarkozy isn't quite charged, at least not yet: "When a suspect is placed under formal investigation," the BBC explains, "he or she is then examined by a judge, who determines whether there is sufficient evidence for the suspect to be charged."
His lawyer Thierry Herzog was also placed under formal investigation as part of the same investigation. As we explained earlier today, French police believe Sarkozy promised a magistrate a fancy new job in Monaco if he kept the former president in the loop on a separate police investigation into whether his 2007 presidential campaign received a donation from Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Police uncovered the evidence that led them to believe Sarkozy might be using his influence in this way while they were tapping his phones as part of the Gaddafi investigation.
Sarkozy wanted to attempt to regain the presidency during the next round of elections in 2017. Today's events seem likely to throw quite a bit of cold water on that goal.