Nicolas Sarkozy trial: Former French president faces corruption verdict

Nicolas Sarkozy sentenced to prison in historic corruption trial of former French president

Sarkozy sentenced to three years in prison, with two of those suspended

Anthony Cuthbertson
in Paris
@ADCuthbertson
Monday 01 March 2021 19:34
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A French court has found Nicolas Sarkozy guilty of influence peddling in a landmark corruption case.

The former French president, who led the country from 2007 until 2012, was sentenced to three years in prison, with two of those suspended.

Sarkozy has 10 days to appeal Monday’s ruling, and the presiding judge said prison time could be substituted by him wearing an electronic bracelet.

The trial is the first time a former French president has stood trial on corruption charges, after being accused of attempting to use his political influence to bribe a judge.

Sarkozy, 66, was found guilty of offering judge Gilbert Azibert a post in Monaco in exchange for inside information relating to a probe into financing for his 2007 presidential campaign.

Azibert never received the Monaco job but prosecutors said the “clearly stated promise” constituted corruption under French law.

The allegations were based on secretly recorded conversations between Sarkozy and his lawyer Thierry Herzog from February 2014.

Both Azibert and Herzog were also found guilty and handed the same sentence.

During the trial, Sarkozy consistently denied committing any act of corruption and claimed that he was the victim of a smear campaign.

“No pact has ever existed. Neither in my head, nor in reality. I want to be cleared of that infamy,” he told the court in December:

“What right do they have to drag me through the mud like this for six years? Is there no rule of law?”

He also questioned the methods by which the evidence against him was gathered.

“You have in front of you a man of whom more than 3,700 private conversations have been wiretapped,” he said. “What did I do to deserve that?”

Sarkozy faces a separate trial later this month relating to his 2012 presidential campaign. He faces charges alongside 13 co-defendants of spending nearly double the authorised limit to finance the campaign, which he lost to Socialist candidate Francois Hollande.

Jacques Chirac is the only former French president to have previously faced trial after leaving office. Sarkozy’s predecessor received a two-year suspended sentence after being found guilty in 2011 of misusing public money during his time as Paris mayor.

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