It isn’t often that a former world leader faces prosecution, much less a criminal conviction, but that is exactly what just occurred in France.
Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who served from 2007-2012, was convicted Monday on charges related to corruption and influence peddling, Politico reported.
He was given a three-year prison sentence following the conviction, though it is unlikely he will ever spend a day behind bars. Two of those three years were immediately suspended and the court determined that simple house arrest would suffice for the third year of the sentence.
An attorney representing Sarkozy made it clear that the former president would be appealing the conviction in a bid to clear his name of the allegations that he has flatly denied.
Campaign finance investigations
During Sarkozy’s trial in December, the former president adamantly denied any wrongdoing and insisted he was being unfairly persecuted in a dishonest witch-hunt that he claimed utilized illegal surveillance methods and withheld evidence by investigators, Reuters reported.
Sarkozy was charged with having attempted to bribe a magistrate in 2012 by offering him a coveted posting in Monaco in exchange for information regarding a separate probe into allegations that the then-president had accepted illegal campaign contributions in 2007 from the heiress to L’Oreal.
The alleged bribe became known thanks to wiretapped conversations between Sarkozy and his attorney, after he lost his 2012 reelection bid, as part of another separate probe into allegations that Libya had illegally helped finance his 2007 campaign.
Also charged in the matter was the former president’s attorney, Thierry Herzog, and the magistrate, Judge Gilbert Azibert, both of whom face up to 10 years in prison and steep fines if convicted.
Not running for president again
Politico noted that there had been talk of Sarkozy attempting a political comeback with another campaign for the presidency in 2022, but that no longer appears to be a viable consideration for the convicted former politician.
Sarkozy told a French newspaper Tuesday that his conviction was a “deep injustice” and that “I cannot accept to be convicted for something I didn’t do,” according to The Associated Press,
He also made it clear that while he had not given serious consideration to running for president again, another run was now out of the question. That said, he also noted that he intended to remain active politically and would support his party.
Meanwhile, Sarkozy is set to stand trial later in March as part of another case of alleged corruption, this time involving alleged misspending by his failed 2012 reelection campaign effort.