A COURT has found Nicolas Sarkozy guilty of corruption and influence peddling and sentenced the former French president to three years. The former president was said to have forged a “corruption pact” with his lawyer and a senior magistrate. He was sentenced to three years in prison, but two of them were suspended.
Judges said there was “serious evidence” of collaboration between the three men to break the law. The court had heard how Sarkozy instructed his lawyer Thierry Herzog to offer the magistrate a cushy job on the Côte d’Azur in return for information on a separate investigation centred on the rightwing politician.
It is unlikely the former president will spend a day in jail. The one year prison sentence can be served with certain conditions, including the wearing of an electronic bracelet, or limited home confinement.
The verdict, delivered today, will quash Sarkozy’s hopes of returning to public life in time for next year’s presidential election.
Judge Christine Mée, president of the Paris tribunal, said there was serious evidence of a “corruption pact” between Sarkozy, Herzog and senior magistrate Gilbert Azibert.
Sarkozy had repeatedly denied the accusations of wrongdoing and spent years attempting to have the charges thrown out and the case dismissed. Herzog argued the recorded conversations between him and Sarkozy were covered by client-lawyer privilege and could not be used as evidence.
French detectives began monitoring Sarkozy’s communications in September 2013 as part of an investigation into claims he had received an illegal and undeclared €50m donation from Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi to fund his successful 2007 presidential campaign.
Sarkozy became the first former president to appear in court on criminal charges. His predecessor Jacques Chirac was charged and convicted – with a two year suspended sentence – over fake jobs at City Hall when he was mayor of Paris – but was spared taking the stand because of ill health.