France: Allegations of bribery: Sarkozy's fight with the judiciary continues

France's scandal-ridden ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy is on trial again today.

France: Allegations of bribery: Sarkozy's fight with the judiciary continues

France's scandal-ridden ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy is on trial again today. In a two-week appeals process in Paris, the allegations of bribery and illegal influence activities against the former head of state are being reopened. A good year and a half ago, the conservative politician was sentenced to three years in prison in the affair. The final sprint is the appeals process in Sarkozy's legal hurdle race, but it's far from over.

The sentence that the politician, popularly known as "Sarko", received in March 2021 was a hard blow for him: three years in prison, two of them on probation and one at home under electronic surveillance. Such a verdict against a former head of state was unprecedented in France's recent history. The execution of the sentence was initially suspended because of the strained appeal.

According to the court, the former president had tried in 2014 to obtain investigative secrets in another affair through his then lawyer Thierry Herzog from the then Advocate General at the Court of Cassation, Gilbert Azibert. In return, Azibert was offered assistance in applying for a post in Monaco. The court saw it as proven that the three defendants made a "corruption pact". It spoke of a "particular gravity" of the crimes, since they had been committed by a former head of state. Sarkozy himself denied the allegations, his lawyer called the verdict "extremely harsh" and "unjustified".

Illegal Campaign Funding

But it was not to be the final verdict against the former civil rights star. Just six months later, in September 2021, a court sentenced the former head of state to a year in prison for illegal campaign financing. The past president also appealed this procedure.

The background to this judgment was that Sarkozy exceeded the costs capped for reasons of equal opportunities by at least 20 million euros in his ultimately failed re-election campaign in 2012. In order to cover up the additional expenses, his party disguised the expenses with a system of fictitious invoices, the verdict said. Sarkozy is said not to have invented the system, but he ignored hints and made other campaign appearances.

Former Conservative hopeful

The conservative's tenure in the Élysée Palace from 2007 to 2012 was already marked by affairs involving rich friends, excessive members of the government and nepotism. The former right-wing hope began his career as mayor. He eventually lost to socialist François Hollande in 2012. After his departure, he wanted to be president again five years later - but failed in the internal party selection process.

Many supporters of the civil right still regard Sarkozy as a leadership icon, although he no longer holds office. However, leading figures in the conservative Républicains are now trying to break away from Sarkozy. While in the past he had fueled speculation about a possible political comeback, he is now burdened by his convictions. He may also face another lawsuit. The judiciary has been investigating alleged payments by Libya for its 2007 election campaign for years. Sarkozy has also rejected all allegations here.

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