Category: World / March 27, 2013 1:42 PM EDT
Former French president Sarkozy made his first major public appearance in Brussels on Wednesday (March 27) after being placed under formal investigation in a party-funding affair.
The former French premier awarded France's highest decoration, the Legion of Honour, to the Belgian Foreign minister.
The distinction was officially awarded before the 2012 presidential election, when Sarkozy was still in power. According to Legion of Honour status, the recipient is free to choose who will give him the medal.
The Belgian Foreign Minister, a conservative and a former finance minister, chose to receive the distinction from Sarkozy.
Sarkozy was placed under investigation last week for allegedly exploiting the mental frailty of 90-year-old L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt to raise money for his 2007 election campaign.
The investigation for the 'abuse of weakness' case threatens to torpedo any political comeback for Sarkozy, who recently told a magazine a sense of duty to fix the economy might oblige him to run.
Bettencourt, France's richest woman, was declared in a state of dementia in 2006 and was placed under the guardianship of her family in 2011.
If found guilty, 57-year-old Sarkozy faces a maximum three-year jail sentence and a hefty fine.
Video Source: Reuters