Former French president Sarkozy sentenced to prison

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Former French head of state Nicolas Sarkozy was sentenced Monday in Paris to three years in prison, including two years suspended.

Sarkozy was sentenced for corruption and influence peddling in a wiretapping case which arose in 2013 from telephone interceptions with his longtime lawyer Thierry Herzog.

The criminal court ruled that a “corruption pact” had been concluded between Sarkozy, his lawyer and former senior magistrate Gilbert Azibert, the latter two of whom received the same sentence.

On 8 December, the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office had requested four years in prison for Sarkozy, including two years mandatory, considering that the presidential image had been “damaged” by this case with “devastating effects.”

Sarkozy was accused of having tried to obtain secret information from Azibert through Herzog, in a procedure concerning the seizure of his diaries on the sidelines of a case involving illegal payments from billionaire Liliane Bettencourt to Sarkozy’s presidential campaign in 2007.

The information was to be provided by the magistrate in exchange for a helping hand for a prestigious post in Monaco.

Before the court, his lawyers had argued that in the end, Sarkozy had not won his case before the Court of Cassation and that Azibert had never held a position in Monaco.

According to the law, however, it is not necessary for the consideration to have been obtained, nor for the influence to be real, in order for the offences to be characterised as corruption and influence peddling.

Sarkozy thus becomes the second former president convicted under the Fifth Republic, after Jacques Chirac in 2011 in the case of fictitious jobs in the city of Paris.