Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy sentenced in historic verdict

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy sentenced in historic verdict

In a historic ruling, Nicolas Sarkozy is the first president in French history to be sentenced for corruption.

A French court has found former French President Nicolas Sarkozy guilty of corruption and influence peddling, sentencing him to one year in prison and a two-year suspended sentence.

President from 2007 to 2012, the 66-year-old was found guilty of trying to illegally obtain information from a senior magistrate in 2014 about an ongoing investigation into his campaign finances.

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Nicolas Sarkozy (Photo: The National News)

The Paris prosecutor had requested a two-year prison sentence and a two-year suspended sentence for Sarkozy and his co-defendants; his lawyer Thierry Herzog and former magistrate Gilbert Azibert. However, Herzog and Azibert were found guilty and handed prison sentences.

The court found that Sarkozy and co. sealed a pact of corruption, based on “consistent and serious evidence,” and said the facts were immensely serious given they were “committed by a former president who used his status to help a magistrate who had served his personal interest.” Sarkozy’s experience as a lawyer also resulted in the court ruling that he was “perfectly informed” about committing illegal action.

Investigators discovered that Herzog and Sarkozy promised Azibert a prestigious position in Monaco in exchange for information about the ongoing case, involving L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt. Using this evidence, prosecutors concluded that the “clearly stated promise” constituted a corruption offence under French law, even if the promise wasn’t fulfilled.

In the final ruling, the judge said Sarkozy did not need to serve time in jail and could serve the sentence by wearing an electronic bracelet at home.