French court upholds three-year sentence for ex-president Sarkozy

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French court upholds three-year sentence for ex-president Sarkozy
Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy arrives at the court in Paris. Photo by BERTRAND GUAY / AFP

A French court of appeals on Wednesday upheld a prison sentence of three years, including two suspended, against former president Nicolas Sarkozy for corruption and influence peddling.


The 68-year-old, president from 2007 to 2012, was also banned from public office for three years for seeking to obtain information about a legal investigation from a judge via a secret telephone line.

The 68-year-old, who served one term from 2007 to 2012, has been embroiled in legal troubles ever since leaving office.

The original sentence was imposed in March 2021 - three years in prison, two of them suspended and one at home with an electronic bracelet - for corruption and influence peddling through a secret telephone line that was discovered through wiretapping.

The court found that Sarkozy and his former lawyer, Thierry Herzog, had formed a "corruption pact" with a judge, Gilbert Azibert, to obtain and share information about a legal investigation.

Investigators had wiretapped Sarkozy's two official phone lines. They discovered that he had a third unofficial one taken out in 2014 under the name "Paul Bismuth", through which he communicated with Herzog.

The contents of these phone calls led to the 2021 corruption verdict, which has now been upheld by the appeals court.

The so-called Bismuth case is just one of several pursuing the man dubbed the "hyper-president" while in office.

Sarkozy will be retried on appeal from November 2023 in the so-called Bygmalion case, which saw him sentenced to one year in prison at first instance.


The prosecution accused Sarkozy's team of spending nearly double the legal limit on his lavish 2012 re-election campaign, using false billing from a public relations firm called Bygmalion. He has denied any wrongdoing.

And French prosecutors on Thursday demanded he face a new trial over alleged Libyan financing of his 2007 election campaign.

France's financial crimes prosecutors said Sarkozy and 12 others should face trial over accusations they sought millions of euros in financing from the regime of then Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi for his ultimately victorious campaign.

Sarkozy is accused of corruption, illegal campaign financing and concealing the embezzlement of public funds but has always rejected all the charges.

Investigating magistrates are to have the last word on whether or not that trial goes ahead.

Despite his legal problems, Sarkozy still enjoys considerable influence and popularity on the right of French politics and reportedly has the ear of incumbent President Emmanuel Macron.


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