The Correctional Tribunal of Paris on Monday found former French president Nicolas Sarkozy guilty of trying to bribe a judge and influence peddling while serving in office. Sarkozy was sentenced to three years in prison but will only serve one year as his remaining sentence was suspended.
Prosecutors had accused Sarkozy and his lawyer Thierry Herzog of attempting to bribe former Court of Cassation magistrate Gilbert Azibert in exchange for confidential information on an inquiry looking into allegations related to Sarkozy’s receipt of illegal payments from L’Oréal heiress Liliane Bettencourt during his 2007 presidential campaign. The Bettencourt case was later dropped.
Prosecutors said Azibert was offered a cushy job in Monaco in exchange for the information. The offer was allegedly made by Herzog, and the tribunal found both Azibert and Herzog guilty.
The charges facing Sarkozy could have resulted in a maximum sentence of 10 years and a one million euro (USD $1.2 million) fine. Prosecutors had sought a sentence of at least four years, half of which he would have been required to serve.
The tribunal rendered its decision based on wiretaps of conversations between Sarkozy and Herzog surrounding the bribe. Sarkozy’s defense lawyer had called the recorded conversations just “chats between friends,” and had argued that the judge’s failure to get the job in question was by itself evidence against corruption.
Sarkozy is also expected to stand trial over allegations that he exceeded a campaign spending limit of 22.5 million euros (USD $24 million) during his 2012 bid for re-election and then sought to cover it up. Additionally, he might face other charges related to an investigation into allegations that he received millions of dollars for his 2007 campaign from late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. In January, French prosecutors started an influence-peddling investigation against the former president after reports that he signed a three million euro ($3.6 million) consulting contract with a Russian insurance company in 2019.
Sarkozy is by far the second former French president to be convicted of corruption. Jacqueline Laffont, his lawyer, suggested that he will appeal the conviction.
This article was translated from English into French by JURIST Editor Boutros Imad. To view the translated article in French, click here.