Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy was sentenced in a French court Monday to three years in prison, for corruption and influence peddling. The dramatic and historic verdict and sentencing quieted a Paris courtroom, as the 66-year-old had repeatedly declared his innocence and dismissed the charges as an “insult to my intelligence”.
Two of the three years was suspended, and the judge said Sarkozy could serve his time wearing an electronic bracelet at home while his lawyer announced there would be an appeal. He was also not banned from holding office again, although his return seemed unlikely.
At his trial last year, the court heard how Sarkozy instructed his lawyer, Thierry Herzog, to offer the senior magistrate Gilbert Azibert a cushy job on the Côte d’Azur in return for information on an investigation into whether he had received donations from the ailing L’Oréal heiress Liliane Bettencourt.
The investigation led to evidence of corruption and was dubbed the “wiretapping case” when French detectives began monitoring Sarkozy’s communications in September 2013.
What they heard from the recorded conversations pointed investigators in a new and unexpected direction. They revealed the former president and his lawyer Herzog were “secretly” communicating using mobile telephones registered under false names. The lawyer repeatedly argued that the communications were covered under lawyer-client privileges.
Sarkozy Faces Further Accusations in Upcoming Trials
- In two weeks, he will be back in court for violating campaign financing rules by trying to hide the true cost of his campaign.
- French prosecutors are also looking at illegal campaign financing from the deceased former leader of Libya Muammar Gaddafi, who reportedly shipped suitcases with millions of euros to Sarkozy’s campaign in Paris.
- There are also allegations of influence peddling and “laundering of crime or misdemeanour” related to consulting activities in Russia.
Sarkozy supporters have accused French judges of making the former president the target of an “unfair and relentless legal crusade.”
Or in Trump-speak, a never-ending witch hunt.