Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy leaves the courtroom Monday, March 1, 2021 in Paris. A Paris court on Monday found French former President Nicolas Sarkozy guilty of corruption and influence peddling and sentenced him to one year in prison and a two-year suspended sentence. The 66-year-old politician, who was president from 2007 to 2012, was convicted for having tried to illegally obtain information from a senior magistrate in 2014 about a legal action in which he was involved. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)(AP)
Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy leaves the courtroom Monday, March 1, 2021 in Paris. A Paris court on Monday found French former President Nicolas Sarkozy guilty of corruption and influence peddling and sentenced him to one year in prison and a two-year suspended sentence. The 66-year-old politician, who was president from 2007 to 2012, was convicted for having tried to illegally obtain information from a senior magistrate in 2014 about a legal action in which he was involved. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)(AP)

Ex-French President Sarkozy found guilty of corruption

The 66-year-old was also sentenced to a one-year prison term, though under the French system he’s unlikely to serve it, even if he fails to overturn the verdict on appeal.
Bloomberg |
UPDATED ON MAR 01, 2021 06:58 PM IST

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy was found guilty by a Paris court of corruption after he offered to pull strings to help a magistrate land a prestigious job in return for a favor.

The 66-year-old was also sentenced to a one-year prison term, though under the French system he’s unlikely to serve it, even if he fails to overturn the verdict on appeal.

“Sarkozy used his status as former French president,” said Presiding Judge Christine Mée on Monday as she read out the court’s decision. She said the wrongdoing he committed was “particularly serious.”

The conviction of Sarkozy -- who still enjoys some popularity in the nation -- is another setback to a political career that stuttered after his failed 2012 re-election bid. The judgment puts the former president on the back-foot weeks before he’s due back in court on separate charges that he illegally exceeded campaign-spending limits ahead of his electoral defeat.

He isn’t the first former French president to go on trial in modern times. But the late Jacques Chirac was too sick to attend court before he was found guilty in 2011 of misusing Paris city funds.

Aside from the one-year jail term, the judges also gave Sarkozy a two-year suspended sentence.

The other defendants -- Sarkozy’s lawyer and the former magistrate -- both received the same sentences as the former president.

Defendants aren’t normally incarcerated if the non-suspended portion of their sentence isn’t longer than two years. They typically have to wear electronic bracelets and obey a curfew instead. Additionally, appealing a first-instance sentence suspends its execution.

Monday’s judgment centers on tapped phone calls of Sarkozy dating back to 2014, after he’d left high office.

Sarkozy was heard telling his lawyer that he would put in a good word to help the now-retired magistrate Gilbert Azibert clinch a sought-after position in Monaco if he helped in a legal fight to stop investigators using the former president’s diaries.

In court, Sarkozy had dismissed the conversations at “chatter” that was misinterpreted by prosecutors.


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