French investigators have abandoned a party funding inquiry against former president Nicolas Sarkozy, a judicial source said on Monday of a legal case that could have scotched his chances of running for a new term.
Sarkozy, who many conservatives want to see lead the centre-right in the 2017 presidential race, was being pursued with others in an investigation into his UMP party's ties with France's richest woman, L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt.
At issue were allegations that Sarkozy, 58, took advantage of the mental frailty of billionaire Bettencourt to obtain money for his 2007 presidential campaign. He has denied wrongdoing.
The two magistrates in charge of the investigation decided to pursue their case against 10 others in the case, said the judicial source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.