A court in Paris has found France’s ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy guilty of corruption and sentenced him to three years in jail. Two of those years were suspended. He could appeal that his one-year term be served at home with an electronic bracelet rather than going to prison.
66-year old Sarkozy is the first former President to get a custodial sentence. He served as France’s president from 2007 to 2012. Since he left the office, he has been targeted by several criminal investigations.
He was accused of bribing a judge in 2014 after he left the office. It was alleged that he had lured the judge with an offer to secure him a prestigious job in return for the information about the ongoing investigation against him in a separate case. He has been convicted of influence-peddling and violation of professional secrecy.
He can appeal for serving the one year sentence outside the prison with an electronic bracelet. However, Sarkozy wants to appeal to put the whole sentence on hold. In case, he commits another crime within this time frame, the court will order him to serve the full sentence.
Commenting on the ruling, Sarkozy’s wife, supermodel and singer Carla Bruni described the case as “senseless persecution” and wrote, “the fight continued, and truth would come out”.
His lawyer Jacqueline Laffont submitted that he would appeal the conviction while calling the ruling totally “baseless and unjustified”. Sarkozy will remain free during all those years of these legal proceedings.
In the verdict, Judge Christine Mée said, “The conservative politician knew what [he] was doing was wrong. His actions and those of his lawyer had given the public a very bad image of justice.”
He was on trial with two co-defendants, his lawyer Thierry Herzog, and a senior judge, Gilbert Azibert. The case was related to the taped conversation between Sarkozy and his lawyer Herzog. Police was investigating the allegations that Sarkozy had accepted illicit payments from the L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt for his 2007 presidential campaign.
His lawyer, Thierry Herzog and senior judge, Gilbert Azibert have also been sentenced to three years imprisonment, two of them suspended.