Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy was found guilty of corruption on Monday and sentenced to three years in prison, in a resounding scandal for a man who for five years remained in the forefront at the local and global levels.
A Paris court concluded that Sarkozy, 66, tried to bribe a judge after leaving office in exchange for classified information regarding an investigation into financing his 2007 election campaign.
“He took advantage of his situation and the relationships that he was,” said Judge Christine Mai.
Sarkozy, who led France from 2007 to 2012, denied any wrongdoing and said he was the victim of scheming members of the Malian prosecutor’s office who resorted to excessive methods to spy on his affairs. He has retired from politics, but he still wields influence among conservatives.
But he may not be serving any prison terms. Two years of the sentence was suspended, and Mai said she was open to the idea of him staying out of prison with an electronic bracelet placed on his body to track him for the remaining year. But the decision in this matter is in the hands of another judge.
Sarkozy left the court without a word, but his lawyer said he would appeal the ruling and prove his innocence.
Sarkozy is the second president in modern France, after the late Jacques Chirac, to be convicted in a corruption case.
Prosecutors persuaded the judges that Sarkozy offered to give Judge Gilbert Azepe a prestigious position in Monaco in exchange for classified information on an investigation into allegations that he had received illegal payments from L’Oréal’s heir to Lilian Bettencourt for his 2007 campaign to run.
They said they learned this from an audio recording of a conversation between Sarkozy and his lawyer, Thierry Herzog, after Sarkozy left power, related to another investigation into allegations of Libyan funding for the same campaign.
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