Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy was sentenced to three years in prison for bribery and wrongful influence. On Monday, a Paris criminal court suspended the probation period for two years.
According to the court decision, the 66-year-old does not have to go to prison: he can serve his sentence at home under electronic surveillance. However, the verdict in France is unprecedented: until now, in the “Fifth Republic” that was established in 1958, no former head of state has been punished with such a severe punishment.
Also convicted lawyer
The judges have also sentenced Sarkozy’s lawyer, Thierry Herzog, and lawyer Gilbert Azibert, to three years in prison, as well as with two years of probation. Lawyer Herzog was not allowed to practice his profession for five years. This operation caused a sensation in France at the end of last year. Sarkozy was personally present at the verdict. It is believed that he will resume.
According to the indictment, in 2014 the former president tried to obtain investigation secrets from attorney Azibert regarding Herzog in another case. The prosecution argued that this behavior endangered the independence of the judiciary in its essence. The court has now spoken of the “special gravity” of these acts, as they were committed by a former head of state, as was said in a communiqué.
President until 2012
The ruling of the conservative politician in the Elysee Palace from 2007 to 2012. He rejected these allegations in court at the end of last year and continues to deny them to this day. Many civil rights advocates consider Sarkozy to be a symbol of leadership, even though he no longer holds any office. The allegations are based on the use of phone calls between the politician and lawyer Herzog. There was a raging debate about the legality of this wiretapping.
The process is historical. However, this is not the first time that a former president has been indicted in France. Sarkozy’s predecessor Jacques Chirac received a two-year suspended prison sentence for embezzlement and breach of trust during his tenure as mayor of Paris.
Sarkozy’s time in the Elysee shaped his relationships with wealthy friends, members of government who were not moderate or crony. The former hope of the right had begun his career as mayor. He finally lost to socialist Francois Hollande in 2012. After his departure, he wanted to become president again five years later – but failed in the party’s internal selection process.
Legal hurdles are imminent
Sarkozy faces a legal hurdle. Due to his botched campaign expenses, there will be another experiment in the middle of the month. The judiciary is also investigating alleged payments from Libya for its successful 2007 presidential election campaign. Sarkozy rejects all allegations here.
Sarko, as it is often called, has fueled speculation in the past about a possible political comeback. Last summer, he published the memoir “Le Temps des Tempêtes” (“The Time of the Storms”), which became a bestseller. However, the conviction greatly reduced the odds of a return. Presidents in France are in fact protected by broad immunity from criminal prosecution.