France ex-president to stand trial for corruption

France ex-president to stand trial for corruption

[JURIST] Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy [BBC profile] must stand for trial [BBC report] for charges of corruption and influence the 2007 French presidential election. The case will focus on alleged phone calls that transpired between Sarkozy and a French judge who was, at the time, investigating claims that Sarkozy’s 2007 election was illegally funded.

In the phone calls, Sarkozy is alleged to have asked Gilbert Azibert, the senior judge of France’s highest court, to provide him with information on the investigation into his actions in exchange for a promotion to a position in the very wealthy principality of Monaco. It is unclear whether or not the Azibert ever provided the requested information, however, Azibert has been ordered to stand for trial alongside Sarkozy.

Thierry Herzog [POLITICO profile], the lawyer who represents both Sarkozy and Azibert, will also be tried in the matter.

The investigation was officially opened in 2014 [Guardian report], and all three defendants had previously been ordered to stand trial in May 2015. However, the case has been repeatedly delayed by numerous appeals on behalf of the defendants.

Sarkozy has faced numerous legal challenges in the past. Last week, Sarkozy was taken into custody [JURSIT report] for questioning in connection with allegations that he received millions of euros in illegal campaign financing from former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. Following his failed 2012 presidential campaign, Sarkozy was charged with spending nearly double the legal limit of 22.5 million euros on his campaign. Prosecutors claim that many of these purchases were made using falsified bills from a public relations firm called Bygmalion. Sarkozy has been ordered to stand trial on the matter. In 2013 Sarkozy was cleared of other illegal campaign funding allegations surrounding his acceptance of donations from L’Oreal Heiress Liliane Bettencourt, who was at the time the richest woman in France.