Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy Loses Appeal in Corruption Case, Set to Challenge Ruling at Highest Court


Nicolas Sarkozy, the former president of France, has lost his appeal against a 2021 conviction for corruption and influence peddling. The Paris Court of Appeals upheld the initial ruling, which sentenced Sarkozy to three years in prison. However, two of those years were suspended, and instead of going to jail, Sarkozy will be required to wear an electronic bracelet for the remaining year. Undeterred by the decision, Sarkozy’s legal team has vowed to challenge the ruling at France’s highest court, the Cour de Cassation. In response to the appeals court’s decision, defense lawyer Jacqueline Laffont maintained Sarkozy’s innocence and stated, “We will not give up this fight.” Prosecutors had recommended a softer punishment of a three-year suspended sentence, but the presiding judge, Sophie Clement, opted to uphold the original penalty, emphasizing that the case had affected the country’s institutions. Typically, jail terms of one year or less are not served in prison if certain conditions, such as the use of an electronic tag, are met. Sarkozy, now 68 years old, left the court without speaking to reporters. A conservative who served as French president from 2007 to 2012, Sarkozy will now escalate his legal battle to the Cour de Cassation, where lower court rulings can be reviewed for legal or procedural errors, but not factual aspects. The conviction against Sarkozy stems from his alleged attempt to bribe a judge after leaving office and his involvement in peddling influence in exchange for confidential information related to an investigation into his 2007 campaign finances. This verdict represents a significant downfall for a former president who once held a prominent position on the world stage and adds to the numerous legal challenges Sarkozy has faced over the past decade.

Throughout the proceedings, Sarkozy has consistently denied any wrongdoing. The case, known in France as the “wiretapping affair,” is indirectly linked to suspicions of illegal campaign financing leading up to the 2007 election. Investigators had wiretapped Sarkozy’s phone lines in 2013 while looking into money flows from Libya, which may result in another trial for the former president. The wiretapped conversations revealed Sarkozy’s secret line, used in collaboration with his lawyer, Thierry Herzog. The judge also upheld the corruption and influence peddling convictions against Herzog and a judge named Gilbert Azibert. Judge Clement stated that Herzog’s judgment as a lawyer was compromised due to his friendship with Sarkozy.

She further noted that Herzog had breached professional codes of conduct by failing to inform the former president that their actions were illegal. Sarkozy’s claim of ignorance regarding the discussions between Herzog and Azibert, based on the wiretapped exchanges, was dismissed by the judge. Additionally, Sarkozy’s argument that wiretapped conversations should not be admissible as evidence in court was rejected. Sarkozy’s conviction places him alongside his conservative predecessor, the late Jacques Chirac, as the only other president of France’s Fifth Republic to be found guilty by a court. Chirac was convicted of corruption in 2011.


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