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Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy was found guilty of attempting to bribe a judge and influence peddling and was sentenced to three years in prison, with two years probation

Sarkozy, who led France from 2007 to 2012, had denied any wrongdoing and said he was the victim of a witch hunt by finance prosecutors who used excessive resources to snoop on his affairs

Taking into account the two years that have been suspended, the one-year sentence means that Sarkozy is unlikely to be physically imprisoned, a sentence normally applied in France to prison sentences of more than two years

He is the second former president in modern France, after the late Jacques Chirac, to be convicted of corruption

Prosecutors convinced the judges that Sarkozy had offered to offer Judge Gilbert Azibert a plum job in Monaco in exchange for confidential information about an investigation into allegations that he had accepted illegal payments from L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt for his 2007 presidential campaign to secure

This became known when they overheard conversations between Sarkozy and his lawyer Thierry Herzog after Sarkozy stepped down in connection with a further investigation into alleged Libyan funding of the same campaign

The court said Sarkozy was entitled to apply for detention at home using an electronic wristband

The court said the facts were “particularly serious” as they were committed by a former president who used his status to assist a judge who had served his personal interest

In addition, as a former lawyer, he was “perfectly informed” about the commission of an illegal act, said the court

Sarkozy had firmly denied all allegations against him during the 10-day trial that took place late last year

At this point, investigating judges had opened an investigation into the funding of the 2007 presidential campaign

Incidentally, during the investigation they discovered that Sarkozy and Herzog were communicating via secret cell phones that were registered under the pseudonym Paul Bismuth

Conversations overheard on these phones led prosecutors to suspect Sarkozy and Herzog of promising Azibert a job in Monaco in exchange for disclosing information about the legal case of L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt

On one of those phone calls with Herzog, Sarkozy said of Azibert: “I’ll get him to step up I’ll help him “

In another case, Duke reminded Sarkozy to say a word for Azibert while on a trip to Monaco

Legal proceedings against Sarkozy in the Bettencourt case have been dropped. Azibert never got the job in Monaco

However, the prosecutors have come to the conclusion that the “clearly stated promise” in itself constitutes a corruption crime under French law, even if the promise has not been fulfilled

He told the court that his political life was all about “giving [people] a little help”

The confidentiality of communication between a lawyer and his client was a major issue in the process

“You have a man in front of you, of whom more than 3700 private conversations were bugged, “Sarkozy said during the trial

Sarkozy’s attorney, Jacqueline Laffont, argued that the entire case was based on “small talk” between a lawyer and his client

The court concluded that wiretapped conversations can be used as legal as long as they help provide evidence of corruption crimes

Sarkozy retired from active politics after he was not selected as his Conservative Party’s presidential candidate for the 2017 French elections, which Emmanuel Macron won

However, he remains very popular with right-wing voters and plays an important role behind the scenes, including by maintaining a relationship with Mr Macron, whom he is supposed to advise on specific issues

Sarkozy will be tried again later this month along with 13 other people for illegally funding his 2012 presidential campaign

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Nicolas Sarkozy

World News – AU – Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy has been sentenced to three years in prison for corruption

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-03-02/former-french-president-nicolas-sarkozy-guilty-corruption/13204944