Ex-French president Sarkozy convicted of corruption, gets 3 years' jail

Henrietta Strickland
March 3, 2021

The sentencing is unprecedented in France, and puts Sarkozy in a small club of former world leaders.

A Paris court handed down the sentence on Monday.

Sarkozy has 10 days to appeal the ruling.

'The events would not have occurred if a former president, as well as a lawyer, had kept in mind the magnitude, the responsibility, and the duties of his office, ' prosecutor Jean-Luc Blachon told the court as the trial wound up in December.

A Paris court found that Sarkozy, 66, had tried to bribe a judge after leaving office, and to peddle influence in exchange for confidential information about an investigation into his 2007 campaign finances.

This is the first time in France's modern history that a former president has gone on trial for corruption.

With the landmark Sarkozy case, prosecutors got close to their initial ask of a four-year sentence with two years suspended.

The case centred on conversations between Azibert and Herzog, which were taped by investigators looking into claims that Sarkozy accepted illicit payments from the L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt for his 2007 presidential campaign.

Mr Sarkozy has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and is expected to appeal.

The court said Sarkozy was entitled to request to be detained at home with an electronic bracelet.

The state's case rested mainly on wiretaps of conversations between Sarkozy and his lawyer, Thierry Herzog, as they discussed the bribe.

On Monday, a court in Paris sentenced him to three years in jail, two of them suspended - although it's unlikely he will be moved to prison as the term can be served under conditions such as house arrest.

Prosecutors are seeking the same punishment for Azibert and Herzog, who are on trial alongside Sarkozy.

Sarkozy denies both allegations.

Sarkozy is also due to go on trial in a separate case that relates to the so-called Bygmalion affair.

While he'll remain out of prison for now, Sarkozy still faces more legal hurdles.

"No pact has ever existed", Sarkozy told the court.

"What a senseless witch-hunt, my love Nicolas Sarkozy", his wife, former supermodel and singer Carla Bruni, posted on Instagram, next to a picture of the couple embracing.

He remains very popular amid right-wing voters, however, and plays a major role behind the scenes, including through maintaining a relationship with Macron, whom he is said to advise on certain topics. His memoirs published this summer, "The Time of Storms", was a bestseller for weeks. His conservative party and a company named Bygmalion are accused of using a special invoice system to hide allegedly spending 42.8 million euros (NZ$70.9 million) - nearly twice the maximum authorised. They have been charged with the illegal financing of his 2012 presidential campaign.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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