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March 2, 2021

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Sarkozy sentenced to jail over corruption charges

Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy was found guilty of corruption yesterday and handed a three-year prison sentence after a court in Paris convicted him for trying to illegally influence a judge during his time in office.

The sentence includes two years suspended, which means it is unlikely Sarkozy will actually go to prison.

He is almost certain to appeal and remains free, with no arrest warrant issued.

The verdict is the latest twist in the tumultuous political career of the 66-year-old who ruled France from 2007 to 2012 and remains a favorite for many on the right.

Yesterday’s conviction is likely to undermine any attempted comeback to front-line politics, an ambition Sarkozy has denied, but which has been promoted by many supporters ahead of 2022 presidential elections.

Only one other French president, Sarkozy’s political mentor Jacques Chirac, was put on trial after leaving office, but he was excused from having to attend his 2011 corruption trial because of ill health.

Chirac received a two-year suspended sentence over the creation of ghost jobs at the Paris city hall to fund his party when he was mayor.

Yesterday’s verdict related to a case of influence peddling and corruption, one of at least four separate investigations into the former leader.

Sarkozy was accused of offering to help a judge obtain a senior job in Monaco in exchange for putting pressure on an inquiry into his campaign finances.

The former president told the court during the trial he had “never committed the slightest act of corruption.”

Prosecutors called for a four-year jail term, serving a minimum of two, and asked for the same punishment for his co-defendants — lawyer Thierry Herzog and the judge Gilbert Azibert.

“The events would not have occurred if a former president, as well as a lawyer, had kept in mind the magnitude, the responsibility, and the duties of his office,” prosecutor Jean-Luc Blachon told the court in December.

The graft and influence-peddling charges — among several cases against him — carry a maximum sentence of 10 years and a fine of 1 million euros (US$1.2 million).


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