Paris (dpa) – In the spectacular trial of alleged bribery and influence, the prosecutor has called for four years in prison for French ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy.
Two of them are being suspended, the French media reported unanimously on Tuesday evening. Conservative Sarkozy ruled the Élysée Palace from 2007 to 2012.
The 65-year-old politician is accused of attempting to learn investigative secrets through his lawyer in 2014 from Gilbert Azibert, then attorney general at the Supreme Court. In return, the ex-president is said to have offered to support the lawyer in applying for a post in Monaco.
Sarkozy had denied the allegations in court. “I have never committed the slightest act of bribery,” he said in court on Monday.
At the start of the trial in November, Sarkozy, his longtime attorney Thierry Herzog and Azibert were said to each face jail terms of up to ten years and a fine of one million euros. The same punishment was demanded for Herzog and Azibert as for Sarkozy.
The prosecutor justified their actions in advance: “No one here wants to take revenge on a former president of the republic,” said Chief Financial Prosecutor Jean-François Bohnert, according to the French news agency AFP.
The proceedings are considered one-off as there are no corruption charges against an ex-head of state in the Fifth Republic of France, founded in 1958 by Charles de Gaulle.
The allegations are based on the analysis of tapped phone calls between the politician and Herzog. For a long time there were heated debates about the legality of this interception. In early 2014, they also used cell phones registered under the pseudonym Paul Bismuth for calls. The devices were bugged because there were suspicions that Libya had donated money for Sarkozy’s successful presidential election campaign in 2007.
It is not the first time that a former lord of the Elysée Palace has been charged. Jacques Chirac, Sarkozy’s predecessor, was sentenced to a two-year suspended sentence for embezzlement and breach of trust during his time as mayor of Paris. The Conservative did not have to appear in court at the time due to health problems.
Sarkozy appeared in court as a commoner. In 2014 he had already retired from power. Presidents are protected in France by extended immunity. The trial will end next Thursday.