On Monday, March 1st, former French President Nicolas Sarkozy was found guilty in a Paris court of several charges related to corruption. He was given a three-year prison sentence, with two years suspended.
The verdict has been in deliberation for more than two months, ever since Sarkozy’s trial concluded in December. Prosecutors presented evidence, including incriminating wiretaps, that Sarkozy and his lawyer attempted to bribe a judge to obtain confidential information. They also accused him of taking illegal payments from wealthy Liliane Bettencourt in exchange for political influence, but that case was dropped to focus on the more serious charge.
The judge implicated in the trial is Gilbert Azibert. Sarkozy offered Azibert a choice position in Monaco in exchange for the information he wanted about allegations that had been made against Sarkozy during his 2007 presidential campaign, including the identities of anonymous whistle-blowers. Azibert was also found guilty of criminal activities by the court, as was Thierry Herzog, Sarkozy’s lawyer and co-defendant. Herzog served as a go-between.
“The events would not have occurred if a former president, as well as a lawyer, had kept in mind the magnitude, the responsibility, and the duties of his office,” prosecutor Jean-Luc Blachon told the court during his arguments in December.
Sarkozy continues to deny any wrongdoing and complains that the six-year duration of the investigation and trial has been a violation of his rights.
If Sarkozy had been convicted of all charges, he could have faced a maximum sentence of 10 years and a fine of as much as one million euros ($1.2 million). Prosecutors sought a four-year sentence. The final sentence of three years, two suspended means that Sarkozy will only send one year in detention, possibly in house arrest.
More charges potentially await the ex-President. He will also stand trial over allegations that he exceeded campaign spending limits and received illegal financial contributions from foreign officials.
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