France’s former president, Nicolas Sarkozy has on Monday, March 1 been found guilty of corruption and influence-peddling and sentenced to three years in prison with two of them suspended.
The 66-year-old, who was president from 2007 to 2012 was accused of forging a “corruption pact” with his lawyer and a senior magistrate. The judge said there was “serious evidence” of collaboration between the three men to break the law.
After a lengthy investigation and legal entanglements, the trial began at the end of last year. The judge handed down Sarkozy’s sentence on Monday afternoon in front of a full courtroom.
The judge stated that Sarkozy did not need to serve time in jail. He could serve the sentence by wearing an electronic bracelet at home.
The 66-year-old man is the first president to have been sentenced to jail in France’s modern history.
Dubbed the “wiretapping case,” it began in 2013 when investigators bugged phones belonging to Sarkozy and his lawyer Herzog, in the context of an inquiry against Sarkozy.
They discovered that the two men promised senior magistrate Gilbert Azibert a prestigious position in Monaco, in exchange for information about an ongoing inquiry into claims that Sarkozy had accepted illegal payments from L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt for his successful 2007 presidential campaign. The scandal gave way to Emmanuel Macron’s victory.
His lawyer, Thierry Herzog, and the senior judge, Gilbert Azibert, have however denied wrongdoing.
Sarkozy is expected to appeal against the conviction.
But Both were handed the same sentence as Sarkozy. Herzog, who was also slapped with a five-year professional ban, has appealed the ruling.
Meanwhile, Sarkozy faces other accusations. In just over two weeks’ time he will once again be on trial accused of violating campaign financing rules during his failed 2012 re-election bid, by working with a friendly public relations firm to hide the true cost of his campaign.
In a separate case, French prosecutors are looking into alleged illegal campaign funding from Libya. Libya’s former deceased leader Muammar Gaddafi allegedly provided Sarkozy’s 2007 campaign with millions of euros shipped to Paris in suitcases.
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