French former President, Nicolas Sarkozy has been sentenced to three years in jail after he was found guilty on Monday, March 2 of corruption and influence-peddling with two of them suspended.
The 66-year-old who was president from 2007 to 2012 was accused of forging a “corruption pact” with his lawyer and a senior magistrate. Judges said there was “serious evidence” of collaboration between the three men to break the law.
The judge said Sarkozy did not need to serve time in jail. He could serve the sentence by wearing an electronic bracelet at home.
After a lengthy investigation and legal entanglements, the trial began at the end of last year.
Dubbed the “wiretapping case,” it began in 2013 when investigators bugged phones belonging to Sarkozy and his lawyer Herzog, in the context of an inquiry against Sarkozy.
They discovered that the two men promised senior magistrate Gilbert Azibert a prestigious position in Monaco, in exchange for information about an ongoing inquiry into claims that Sarkozy had accepted illegal payments from L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt for his successful 2007 presidential campaign.
With the left still in tatters, pollsters are predicting a re-run of the 2017 contest between Macron and the far-right’s Marine Le Pen. Macron’s recent veer to the right suggests that he’s trying to neutralize his biggest opponents, the right and the far-right.
Sarkozy faces other accusations. In just over two weeks’ time he will once again be on trial accused of violating campaign financing rules during his failed 2012 re-election bid, by working with a friendly public relations firm to hide the true cost of his campaign.
In a separate case, French prosecutors are looking into alleged illegal campaign funding from Libya. Libya’s former deceased leader Muammar Gaddafi allegedly provided Sarkozy’s 2007 campaign with millions of euros shipped to Paris in suitcases.
In 2011, former president Jacques Chirac was found guilty of misuse of public funds and given a two-year suspended prison sentence for the employment of fictitious officials when he was mayor of Paris in the early 1990s.
The last French head of state to be sentenced to jail was Marshal Philippe Pétain in 1945 — for treason after he collaborated with the Nazis.
Nicolas Sarkozy is the first former French president to receive a custodial sentence.