After being found guilty of corruption and influence peddling on the morning of March 1, a former president has been sentenced to a year in prison.
Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, 66, was found guilty in a Paris court after allegedly attempting to bribe a magistrate to give him information about a legal case that he was implicated in. Along with the year in prison, he also received a two year suspended sentence, which he will not be required to serve if he does not commit another offense in the next five years.
Sarkozy, who served as president from 2007 to 2012, is able to request to serve his time at home with an electronic bracelet. According to his lawyer, Jacqueline Laffont, he plans to appeal the ruling. He will remain free during the appeal process, though he is facing a trial in another case later this month. Sarkozy is also being investigated in relation to a third case.
The co-defendants in Sarkozy’s case, his longtime friend and lawyer Thierry Herzog, and now-retired magistrate Gilbert Azibert, were both found guilty and received the same sentence as the former president. The court ruled that the three had sealed a “pact of corruption.”
The investigation was originally centered around an inquiry into the financing of Sarkozy’s 2007 presidential campaign, but changed its focus after uncovering information from phone conversations which took place in February of 2014.
While investigating, authorities discovered that Sarkozy and Herzog had been communicating using secret cell phones registered to “Paul Bismuth,” an alias. Wiretapped conversations from these phones led to the suspicion that the two were attempting to bribe Azibert by offering him a position in Monaco in exchange for information about the case Sarkozy was implicated in.
“I’ll make him move up. … I’ll help him,” Sarkozy was heard saying in a phone call to Herzog, referring to Azibert.
Though Azibert never got the job in Monaco, prosecutors have asserted that the “clearly stated promise” still qualifies as corruption under French law.
During the trial, Sarkozy attempted to frame his actions as “giving [people] a little help. That all it is, a little help.”
In another investigation, the former president is accused of taking millions in donations from former Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi to illegally fund his 2007 campaign.
Sarkozy continues to deny all wrongdoing.
According to The Associated Press, “The ruling marks the first time in France’s modern history that a former president has been convicted of corruption — and given a prison term. His predecessor, Jacques Chirac, was found guilty in 2011 of misuse of public money during his time as Paris mayor — not considered a corruption offense — and was given a two-year suspended prison sentence.”