Sentencing Sarkozy – house arrest instead of return to the Elysee Palace

In Paris, former President Nicolas Sarkozy was sentenced to prison for corruption. A return to national politics is not possible.

Denied: Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy (center).

Photo: Ian Langsdon (EPA)

It is the first for French democracy: former President Nicolas Sarkozy was sentenced to three years in prison in Paris on Monday, two of which will be suspended. The remainder of the year can be converted into house arrest with an electronic ankle bracelet.

It is the first time in modern French history that a former president has been convicted of corruption. Sarkozy’s predecessor, Jacques Chirac, was found guilty of misusing public funds during his tenure as mayor of Paris in 2011 and was sentenced to a two-year suspended prison sentence.

Used case

Last Sunday, it seemed the conservatives in France were still doing fine with the world. That changes on Monday, at exactly 2 p.m., when the judge reads her ruling at the Palais de Justice in Paris. You see that Sarkozy has proven 2014 He tried to bribe the judiciary. He and his former attorney, Thierry Herzog, are said to have come up with a common case with then-attorney general Gilbert Azibert to obtain the secrets of the investigation. The ruling stated that Sarkozy “used his position as a former president of the republic for personal gain.”

In 2014, the former president attempted to obtain investigative secrets in another case through Thierry Herzog from then-attorney general Azibert at the Court of Cassation. In return, assistance was provided in the application of a high-ranking official to obtain a job in Monaco. The court held that it was proven that the three defendants had signed a “corruption charter.”

‘Special distress’

Sarkozy and Herzog knew that Azibert’s behavior was illegal. The court spoke of a “special danger” of these acts, as they were committed by a former head of state. The prosecution has already argued that the independence of the judiciary has been jeopardized.

Herzog and Osibert were also found guilty on Monday. When lawyers and convicts leave the courtroom after the verdict, they all walk silently in front of the cameras and microphones, ignoring the journalists’ questions. One of the announcers commented, “This is the shock.”

Court illustration with Nicolas Sarkozy (left) and the other accused Thierry Herzog (center) and Gilbert Seibert (right).

Court illustration with Nicolas Sarkozy (left) and the other accused Thierry Herzog (center) and Gilbert Seibert (right).

Photo: Benoit Piroque (AFP)

The allegations are based on the use of phone calls between the politician and his lawyer, Herzog. There was a raging debate about the legality of this wiretapping. Investigators found that Sarkozy and Herzog had used cell phones to conduct secret talks that the former president had bought under the pseudonym Paul Bismuth.

Where Sarkozy is, there is chaos

A quote from the past few weeks now has a different meaning. The phrase “Si c’est le chaos, c’est Sarko” was passed down as the Republican emblem. If things go wrong, Sarko should act, as the French call the former president. Some did indeed play Sarkozy as a kingmaker in the 2022 presidential election. Now it seems extremely unlikely that the 66-year-old will be able to play a role in national politics again.

Sarkozy is not going to remove the mess, he sits in the middle of it himself. Even if his lawyer, Jacqueline Laffont, announced on Monday that she wanted to appeal the ruling. Gone are the years when Sarkozy’s friends in the party dismissed his scandals as much ado about nothing.

His party turned to the offensive

Consequently, the Republicans switch contacts immediately after the verdict. You turn to the offensive. Party leader Christian Jacob spoke of “a totally disproportionate punishment”. Member of the European Parliament, Constance Le Grib, says the court wants to “humiliate the former head of state”. Sarkozy himself had always protested his innocence anyway.

And not just in the process. Sarkozy also sees himself as a victim of the judiciary, who accuses him of being biased in other investigations against him. In the process, Sarkozy said he was under the impression that “the financial prosecutor’s office was formed solely for him.” He had to deal with “a new issue every week”. The Malian Attorney General defended himself against Sarkozy’s attacks in December.

“The duty to respect the rule of law”

“This trial is not a campaign of revenge against a former president,” the public prosecutor said in court. A former head of state has “rights that must be respected, but also a duty to respect the rule of law.”

Sarkozy will be tried again on March 17th. Then comes the potentially illegal financing of his 2012 presidential campaign. His campaign financing is also set for 2007. Sarkozy is accused of accepting donations of millions from Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. As president, Sarkozy received Gaddafi with great pomp in Paris. Investigators accuse Sarkozy of renting a one meter high safe to store the money donated by Gaddafi. It is said from Sarkozy’s environment that the manuscripts of the president’s speech are preserved in the respective vault.

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