Nicolas Sarkozy is still considered a dazzling figure in France. His name was recently fraught with legal matters. Now the sentence is lapsed in a trial in which “Sarko” is threatened with imprisonment.
Paris (AP) – In the sensational trial of the former president of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, the verdict is expected today.
The 66-year-old has to answer with two other accused about alleged bribery and illicit influence. Prosecutors are demanding a four-year sentence for Sarkozy, two of which are on probation. However, the defense calls for acquittal. “I have never committed the slightest act of bribery,” Sarkozy had said in court.
The politician is accused of trying to learn investigative secrets through his legal adviser in 2014 from Gilbert Azibert, then Solicitor 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. The allegations are based on the use of wiretapped phone calls between the politician and lawyer Herzog. There were heated debates about the legality of this interception.
Sarkozy ruled the Elysée Palace from 2007 to 2012. Numerous civil rights supporters consider him a leadership icon to this day, although he no longer has any offices. Time and again in France, speculation about a possible comeback of the 66-year-old – if he succeeds in solving his legal problems – has surfaced.
The process is considered unprecedented in France. According to media reports, it is the first time that a previous president has been imprisoned in the Fifth Republic, which was founded in 1958. Sarkozy’s predecessor Jacques Chirac was sentenced to a two-year suspended sentence for embezzlement and breach of trust during his time as mayor of Paris – but the prosecution called for acquittal at the time.
Sarkozy’s time at the Élysée was shaped by affairs about wealthy friends, outrageous members of the government or favoritism. “Sarko”, as he is called in France, started his career as mayor. As president, he was considered a tough dog. In 2012 he finally lost to the socialist François Hollande. After resigning, he wanted to become French president again five years later – but failed.
Sarkozy faces a legal hurdle. Due to the cost of his failed reelection campaign, another trial is scheduled for March. The judiciary has also been investigating alleged payments by Libya for its successful 2007 presidential campaign for years. Sarkozy, too, rejects all allegations here.
Recently, politics had calmed down around the dazzling French. Sarkozy is considered a confidant of President Emmanuel Macron. His memoirs “Le Temps des Tempêtes” (“The Time of the Storms”) became a bestseller in the summer. In public and in gossip magazines, he appears next to his wife, the singer Carla Bruni.
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