France’s ex-president has to go to jail: A court in Paris has convicted Nicolas Sarkozy of bribery. The verdict is unprecedented in recent French history.
Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy has been sentenced to three years in prison for bribery and illicit influence. Of these, two years will be suspended, as the French news agency AFP reported on Monday from the Paris Palace of Justice.
The 66-year-old Nicolas Sarkozy was France’s President from 2007 to 2012. In 2014, the politician tried, through his lawyer, to find out investigative secrets from Gilbert Azibert, then an advocate general at the Court of Cassation. In return, the ex-president offered to support the lawyer in applying for a post in Monaco. The verdict is based on the use of tapped phone calls between the politician and lawyer Herzog. There had been a heated argument about the legality of this wiretapping.
Sarkozy trial is considered unprecedented in France
Sarkozy is still considered a leadership icon by numerous supporters of the civil rights, although he no longer has any offices. Again and again in France there is speculation about a possible comeback of the 66-year-old – if he manages to solve his legal problems.
The process is considered unprecedented in France. According to media reports, it is the first time in the Fifth Republic, which was founded in 1958, that a previous president has been imprisoned. Sarkozy’s predecessor Jacques Chirac was sentenced to a suspended sentence of two years for embezzlement and breach of trust during his time as Paris mayor – but the prosecution pleaded for acquittal at the time.
Sarkozy was unable to make a comeback
Sarkozy’s time in the Élysée was shaped by affairs over wealthy friends, immoderate members of the government or nepotism. “Sarko”, as he is called in France, started his career as mayor. As president, he was considered a tough dog. He finally lost to the socialist François Hollande in 2012. After his resignation, he wanted to become French President again five years later, but failed.
Sarkozy faces a legal hurdle. Because of expenses for his unsuccessful re-election campaign, there is to be another trial in March. The judiciary has also been investigating alleged payments by Libya for its successful presidential election campaign in 2007 for years. Sarkozy also rejects all allegations here.
Recently it had become politically quieter around the dazzling French. Sarkozy is considered a confidante of President Emmanuel Macron. His memoir “Le Temps des Tempêtes” (“The Time of the Storms”) became a bestseller in the summer. In public and in gossip magazines, he appears at the side of his wife, the singer Carla Bruni.