France’s former president Nicolas Sarkozy sentenced to prison in corruption trial

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A French court found former president Nicolas Sarkozy guilty on Monday of trying to bribe a judge and of influence peddling, making him the second head of state in modern-day France to be convicted of corruption.

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, wearing a protective face mask, arrives for the verdict in his trial on charges of corruption and influence peddling, at Paris courthouse, France, March 1, 2021.
Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, wearing a protective face mask, arrives for the verdict in his trial on charges of corruptionand influence peddling, at Paris courthouse, France, March 1, 2021. © Reuters/Gonzalo Fuentes

Sarkozy, who led France from 2007 to 2012, was found guilty of offering a plum job in Monaco to a judge in exchange for inside information on an inquiry into his campaign finances.

He was sentenced to three years in jail, including two years suspended.

The sentence means it is unlikely Sarkozy will physically go to prison, a punishment that in France usually applies to custodial terms above two years.

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

 

Sarkozy has 10 days to appeal the ruling.

The same sentence was handed down to his co-defendants – lawyer Thierry Herzog and judge Gilbert Azibert.

The former president and his lawyer were found guilty of seeking to bribe judge Azibert for information on an inquiry into claims the former leader had received illicit payments from L’Oréal heiress Liliane Bettencourt during his successful 2007 presidential campaign.

The state’s case was based on wiretaps of conversations between Herzog and Sarkozy, with prosecutors accusing him of “using secret telephone lines” to cover up his attempt to infiltrate the court.


VIDEO:rance’s former president Nicolas Sarkozy sentenced
to prison in corruption trial

Prosecutors said it had been established “with certainty” that judge Azibert transmitted confidential information about the Bettencourt case on an unofficial line to his friend Herzog.

One conversation “overwhelmingly” showed that Sarkozy had promised to intervene to get Azibert a post in Monaco, they said.

Azibert, who was a senior adviser at France’s highest appeals court at the time, never got the job in Monaco.

Sarkozy’s lawyers argued this pointed to the absence of corruption but prosecutors said French law makes no distinction between a successful corruption attempt and a failed one.

Other cases pending

Sarkozy, who was eventually cleared of any wrongdoing in the Bettencourt affair, still faces a raft of other legal woes.

Allegations that he received millions of euros from Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi for his 2007 election campaign are still being investigated, and he is also accused of fraudulently overspending in his failed 2012 reelection bid.

In January, prosecutors opened another probe into alleged influence-peddling by Sarkozy over his advisory activities in Russia.

Source:france24.com