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Sarkozy sentenced on appeal for corruption to prison

An unprecedented sanction for a former French president confirmed on appeal: Nicolas Sarkozy was sentenced Wednesday in Paris to three years in prison, including a farm process under electronic bracelet, for corruption and influence peddling.

The former strongman of the French right listened to the decision sitting on the bench of the defendants, his jaw clenched. He walked out of the courtroom without making a statement.

Criticizing a “staggering”, “unjust and unjust” decision, his lawyer Jacqueline Laffont immediately announced that she was going to “file an appeal in cassation, an appeal which is suspensive of all the measures (…) pronounced today”.

Nicolas Sarkozy, 68, is the first former French president to be sentenced to prison, his former mentor Jacques Chirac having been given a two-year suspended prison sentence in 2011 in a fictitious job case at the city of Paris.

His historic lawyer Thierry Herzog, 67, and former senior magistrate Gilbert Azibert, 76, were also found guilty of having entered into a “corruption pact” with Nicolas Sarkozy in 2014 and sentenced to the same sentence.

The Court of Appeal also pronounced a three-year ban on civil rights for Mr. Sarkozy, which makes him ineligible, and for Mr. Azibert, as well as a three-year ban on Mr. Herzog.

Me Herzog and Mr. Azibert will also appeal in cassation, indicated their advice.

The Court of Appeal went beyond the requisitions of the General Prosecutor’s Office, which on December 13 had demanded three years’ imprisonment fully suspended against the three defendants – who have always denied any corruption -, thus confirming the sentences handed down on March 1, 2021.


The former tenant of the Élysée (2007-2012) had contested “with the greatest force” during the appeal trial these accusations, reaffirming that he had “never corrupted anyone”.

Mr. Sarkozy “used his status as former president (…) to serve his personal interest”, revealed on the contrary the Court of Appeal, a “misrepresentation” which “requires a firm criminal response”.

Gilbert Azibert’s behavior has “discredited” the profession of magistrate, underlined the president of the court, Sophie Clément. As for Me Herzog, he “betrayed his oath as a lawyer”.

This affair arose from telephone interceptions between Mr. Sarkozy and Mr. Herzog, his lawyer and long-time friend.

At the end of 2013, the investigating judges responsible for investigating suspicions of Libyan financing of his 2007 presidential campaign decided to “connect” Nicolas Sarkozy’s two lines. They then discover the existence of a third, unofficial line.

Purchased in January 2014 under the identity of “Paul Bismuth” – a high school acquaintance of Me Herzog – it is solely dedicated to exchanges between the two men.

For the prosecution, these wiretaps reveal a corruption pact made with Mr. Azibert, then general counsel at the Court of Cassation, the highest court of the French judiciary.

“Thumbs up”

In these taps, broadcast for the first time at the appeal trial, Nicolas Sarkozy, then awaiting a decision in cassation in the Bettencourt affair, undertakes “to bring up” the magistrate or to take a “step ” ” in his favour. The ex-president was indeed charged for a time for “abuse of weakness” concerning the heiress of L’Oréal Liliane Bettencourt: he finally obtained in 2013 a dismissal “in the absence of sufficient charges” .

For the court, Mr. Azibert, in exchange for a “boost” for an honorary position in Monaco, tried to influence the appeal filed by Mr. Sarkozy. “Certainly, the actions undertaken did not have the proposed success”, but “this case is nonetheless of a certain seriousness”, she proved.

Under strong judicial pressure, Nicolas Sarkozy will be retried on appeal in the fall in a case of illegal financing of his 2012 presidential campaign. He was sentenced to one year in prison in September 2021.

He is also under threat of a third trial withheld: the national financial prosecutor’s office on Thursday requested his referral to corrections in the case of suspicions of Libyan financing of his 2007 campaign. The decision is up to the investigating judges.



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