Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy has been found guilty of corruption over charges of trying to bribe a magistrate. The judge sentenced Sarkozy to three years in prison, with two years suspended.
Judge Christine Mee, who presided over the case, stated that the 66-year-old former political leader had “used his status as former French president” in a “particularly serious” act of wrongdoing, as she handed down the sentence.
Sarkozy was put on trial over accusations of trying to bribe Gilbert Azibert, a French magistrate, by offering him a well-paid job in Monaco in return for information about a criminal investigation into his political party at the time, the Union for a Popular Movement.
The investigation was looking into claims that Sarkozy and his party had received illegal payments from businesswoman Liliane Bettencourt during his successful 2007 presidential campaign.
Throughout the trial and despite the sentencing, Sarkozy has denied the allegations and protested his innocence. He is expected to appeal the court’s judgement.
While Sarkozy has been given a one-year prison term and a two-year suspended term, the judge ruled he will be allowed to serve his sentence wearing an electronic tag under house arrest.
Sarkozy is still facing another trial later this year, alongside 13 other individuals, over charges of illegally financing his 2012 presidential campaign. The case will focus on claims his office used a system of false accounting to hide overspending. He ultimately lost that election to Francois Hollande.
Alongside the former president, the French court also found co-defendants Thierry Herzog, Sarkozy’s former lawyer, and Gilbert Azibert, the magistrate he was accused of bribing, guilty and gave them the same sentence.
This is the second time in France’s history that a former president has been given a prison sentence. Jacques Chirac, who was Sarkozy’s predecessor, was found guilty of misusing public money in 2011 and handed a two-year suspended sentence over criminal actions that occurred during his time as Mayor of Paris.
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