Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy has been sentenced to jail after he was found guilty of trying to bribe a judge and influence peddling, making him the second head of state in modern-day France to be convicted of corruption.
Prosecutors had told the court that Sarkozy, 66, should be jailed for four years and serve at least 2-years. Meanwhile, during his testimony, Mr Sarkozy claimed to have been a victim of lies and denied committing any corruption.
Finally, the former French leader was slammed three years in prison, two of which will be suspended. But while giving evidence to the court last year, Mr Sarkozy said, “Never. Never abused my influence, alleged or real.
“What right do they have to drag me through the mud like this for six years? Is there no rule of law?”
Prosecutors alleged that the former President had offered to secure a plum job in Monaco for judge Gilbert Azibert in exchange for confidential information about an inquiry into accusations that he had accepted illegal payments from L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt for his 2007 presidential campaign.
According to them, this was discovered while they were wiretapping conversations between the former president and his lawyer, Thierry Herzog, after Mr Sarkozy left office, in relation to another investigation into alleged Libyan financing of that 2007 campaign.
Mr Azibert, at the time a magistrate at France’s top appeals court for criminal cases and well-informed on the Bettencourt inquiry, did not get the job in Monaco. Sarkozy’s predecessor, Jacques Chirac, is the first president under France’s post-war Fifth Republic to have faced trial after leaving office.
Mr Chirac, who passed away in 2019, was found guilty in 2011 of presiding over a system of ghost jobs in Paris City Hall for political cronies when he was mayor of the capital. Chirac escaped serving time in jail after he was slammed 2-years suspended sentence.
Mr Sarkozy had denied any wrongdoing, saying he was the victim of a witch-hunt by financial prosecutors who used excessive means to snoop on his affairs.
The state’s matter was handled based on wiretaps of conversations between Mr Herzog and Mr Sarkozy, but the former president denounced the allegation during his address to the court.
He has 10 days to appeal the judgement and the court said Mr Sarkozy will be entitled to request to be under home arrests for a year with an electronic bracelet.
The former French President Nicolas Sarkozy is still charged over allegations that he collected millions of euros in funding from Libyan Muammar Gaddafi towards his 2007 election campaign, and fraudulently overspending on his failed 2012 re-election bid.
In January, prosecutors opened another probe into alleged influence-peddling by Sarkozy over his advisory activities in Russia.