• France's news in English

Angry Sarkozy rejects corruption allegations

AFP/The Local · 20 Mar 2014, 19:32

Published: 20 Mar 2014 19:32 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Sarkozy said in a column in French daily Le Figaro that publication of excerpts of his private conversations - which appear to implicate him in attempts to pervert the course of justice - were politically motivated. He also refuted several other corruption allegations.

"I think it is now my duty to break... (my) silence. If I do this, it is because the sacred principles of our Republic are trampled on with unheard of violence and with an unprecedented absence of qualms," the 59-year-old wrote in the Le Figaro daily.

Sarkozy has been implicated in a series of corruption cases, culminating with revelations in the press this month that he allegedly attempted to pervert the course of justice -- information reportedly gleaned from excerpts of tapped phone conversations with his lawyer.

"Who handed over these documents when no lawyer has access to the procedure? The only people who hold (the documents) are judges or policemen...Are they above laws and judicial secrecy?" he asked.

The former president slammed the tapping of his phones by judges, compating them to the Stasi, the old East German secret police.

"These days, anyone who calls me should know that they will be listened to," he wrote. "This is not an excerpt from the wonderful film The Lives of Others about East Germany and the activities of the Stasi.

"It is not the actions of a dictator somewhere in the world at his opponents place. This is France, " is moved Nicolas Sarkozy.

The former president had been left fighting for his political life but it was the former president's lawyer who was the first to mount a fightback in the phone-tap scandal on Thursday.

Sarkozy's hopes of winning the 2017 presidential election are widely seen as having been seriously compromised, if not wrecked, by the publication of details of secret conversations between him and his lawyer, Thierry Herzog.

Excerpts published by news website Mediapart appear to implicate Sarkozy and Herzog in an attempt to pervert the course of justice in connection with a series of overlapping corruption investigations.

Herzog insisted Thursday that the "truncated" transcripts provided no evidence of wrongdoing and said he would file a legal complaint over the leaks, which, he suggested, could have been the work of current President Francois Hollande.

"I will be asking the prosecutor of the republic, via a formal complaint, to order an investigation aimed at identifying the authors of these violations of judicial secrecy," Herzog said.

"I think he should be able to find them very easily."

Mediapart's report followed similar but less detailed revelations in Le Monde. Herzog said it was no coincidence that Mediapart's founder and Hollande shared a lawyer, or that the president had received the two Le Monde journalists following publication of their report.

"The facts would seem to speak for themselves," Herzog said.

A serious crime 

The recorded conversations suggest Sarkozy, 59, got a friendly judge to try to influence the outcome of legal deliberations in one of France's highest courts; had a mole in a senior position who tipped him off about a planned police raid on his offices; and was contemptuous of the judges investigating him - Herzog describing them as "bastards" in one conversation.

Such interference in the judicial process is regarded as "influence peddling" in French law and carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 years.

Story continues below…

But there are also misgivings within the legal establishment about how the evidence against Sarkozy emerged.

A delegation of lawyers visited Hollande Thursday to express concern over an advocate-client conversation being recorded without any prior evidence of prima facie wrongdoing by the lawyer.

Herzog meanwhile denied that his "bastards" comment was incriminating.

"You should not read too much into a private conversation where I allow myself to let go a little," he said. "Have you never said things on the phone that go beyond what you actually think?"

Sarkozy is not currently charged with any offence in any of the various investigations, which are all linked to his election campaigns and their financing.

AFP/The Local (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
What Paris 'squalor pit' Gare du Nord will look like in future
All photos: Wilmotte et Assoicés

IN PICTURES: The universally accepted 'squalor pit of Europe' is finally getting a facelift.

Halloween: The ten spookiest spots in Paris
Is there really a ghost on the first floor of the Eiffel Tower? Photo: AFP

Read at your own peril.

Halloween holiday in France: Traffic nightmares and sun!
Photo: AFP

But it's great news for the country's beleaguered tourism industry.

French MPs vote to make Airbnb 'professionals' pay tax
Photo: AFP

Do you make a lot of money through Airbnb in France? You'll have to pay a share to the taxman in future.

France and Britain accused of abandoning Calais minors
Photo: AFP

Scores of young migrants are forced to sleep rough for a second night.

France given wake up call as it bids for Brexit business
The business district 'La Defense' in Paris. Photo: AFP

France clearly has some work to do if it really wants to pinch business from the UK post-Brexit.

Mouth fun? French words you just can't translate literally
Do you know the French word for throat-support? Photo: AFP

Word of warning: Don't translate French literally.

How France plans to help its stressed-out police force
Yellow smoke rises around French police officers in Paris holding a banner reading "Solidarity with our colleagues, police angry". All photos: AFP

Could these measures stop the cops from protesting?

'3,000 migrants dispersed' after 'Jungle' clearance
Photo: AFP

While thousands of migrants have been bussed out around France, new ones are arriving all the time and thousands of others have simply been dispersed aid agencies say.

Fifteen of the most bizarre laws in France
Photo: Matthew Powell/Flickr

A must read for anyone who wants to stay on the right side of the law in France.

The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
jobs available