Nicolas Sarkozy was has been found guilty of corruption and influence-peddling, to serve a 3-year jail term.
In what is arguably a historical ruling, the 66-year old Sarkozy has been sentenced for corruption and influence peddling. Sarkozy was the French president from 2007 to 2012.
He was found guilty of attempting to acquire illegal information from a senior magistrate back in 2014. At that time there was an active investigation into his campaign finances.
The case was dubbed the “wiretapping case” after investigators tapped into his phone and that of his lawyer Herzog, as part of investigations. It was unraveled found that the two had promised Gilbert Azibert (a senior magistrate) a position in Monaco provided he gave them information on investigations underway on claims that Sarkozy accepted illegal payments from Liliane Bettencourt, L’Oreal heiress during his 2007 presidential campaign.
Also read: Macron urges for vaccine sharing with Africa
In the ruling, Sarkozy will not serve jail time but has to wear an ankle bracelet and remain in his house. Paris prosecutors requested a 2-year prison sentence for Sarkozy and co-defendants. Also found guilty were Thierry Herzog (his lawyer) and Gilbert Azibert (a former magistrate). The two were also handed prison sentences. Lengthy investigations were conducted into the trial, which only began late last year. The presiding judge handed down Sarkozy’s sentence on Monday afternoon in front of a packed courthouse.
Apparently, Sarkozy is not yet out of the woods. He is also facing trial for violations of campaign finances during his botched 2012 bid. It is alleged that he worked with a cordial public relations firm to conceal the real cost of his campaign. French prosecutors are also exploring a possible connection of illegal campaign financing from Libya. Word has it that Muammar Gaddafi provided Sarkozy’s campaign with millions of euros in campaign finances shipped in briefcases.
What next for Sarkozy?
The former French President had been mulling a second political comeback during the 2022 election through his Les Republicains party. After his failed bid to win re-election in 2012 and his inability to clinch the conservative primaries in 2016, it was expected that the former president would automatically stand out given the party lacked any clear leader to take the reins.
Conservative hopes were derailed after their 2017 candidate, former Prime Minister Francois Fillon, battled with accusations of misuse of public funds. The scandal played largely in favor of current president Emmanuel Macron while Filon received a decades-long ban from public office and served a 5-year prison term.
In 2011, Jacques Chirac, the former French President was sentenced to 2-years after being found guilty of misuse of public funds. He has employed fictitious people while mayor of Paris in the 1900s.
The last president to receive a jail term was Marshal Philippe Pétain in 1945 charged for treason over his collaboration with the Nazis.
Pollsters are predicting a rerun of Macron and far-right candidate Marie Le Pen next year. Macron has made a recent veer towards the right in an effort to neutralize some of his strongest opponents, the right and far-right.
Ph: 360b / Shutterstock.com