PARIS, Sept. 24 (Xinhua) -- Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy will remain under formal investigation for "abuse of weakness" in a 2007 party funding case involving L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, a French court decided on Tuesday.
Prosecutor of Bordeaux southwestern courthouse upheld Sarkozy and 11 others illegal donation probe after rejecting their lawyers' contesting of 2011 medical report that showed Bettencourt was suffering from dementia since 2006.
According to media reports, the conservative former head of state could face a trial at any time and the court's final decision could take several months.
The court decision was likely to throw a spanner into Sarkozy's plan of a political comeback and lead the UMP party in 2017 presidential election.
"There is more chance of a trial on the horizon for Sarkozy, and as for his eventual return to politics, it's obviously a lot more complicated for him. He is no longer master of his own calendar," Christophe Barbier, a political analyst, was quoted as saying by news channel iTele.
In March, Sarkozy was charged with abuse of weakness of Bettencourt and accepting illegal financing in support of his 2007 election campaign.
Three months later, the public prosecutor asked for the dismissal of all charges against Sarkozy, and his treasurer of 2007 campaign and former Budget Minister Eric Woerth for lack of evidence.
The scandal sparked public controversy since July 2010, when a former bookkeeper of Bettencourt, the richest woman in Europe, unveiled secret recordings showing the involvement of then Labor Minister Eric Woerth in a major tax evasion involving the 90-year-old owner of the cosmetics giant L'Oreal.
The former bookkeeper also claimed that 150,000 euros (202,500 U.S. dollars) were offered to finance Sarkozy's 2007 campaign, while French law limits donations to parties to 7,500 euros per person per year with only 150 euros given in cash. (1 euro = 1.35 U.S. dollars)