French court sentenced former French president Nicolas Sarkozy to three years in prison on charges involving corruption and influence peddling.
After leaving office, Sarkozy was convicted of trying to bribe a judge by suggesting he could secure a prestigious job for him in return for information about an ongoing investigation on his campaign finances.
Sarkozy is the first former French president to get a custodial sentence, but despite the charges Sarkozy will remain free during the appeal process, which could take years.
The prosecutor had requested a two-year prison sentence and a two-year suspended sentence for Sarkozy and his co-defendants, who were his lawyer Thierry Herzog and former magistrate Gilbert Azibert. Herzog and Azibert were found guilty and handed prison sentences.
In the ruling, Judge Christine Mee said the conservative politician “knew what [he] was doing was wrong”, adding that his actions and those of his lawyer had given the public “a very bad image of justice”.
An investigation dubbed the ‘wiretapping case’ in 2013, when investigators bugged phones that belonged to both Sarkozy and Herzog, started a lengthy investigation that concluded this week.
This investigation concluded that the two men made promises to Gilbert Azibert, who was a senior magistrate in Monaco, in exchange for information about an ongoing inquiry into claims that Sarkozy had accepted illegal payments from L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt for his successful 2007 presidential campaign.
If Sarkozy‘s appeal is unsuccessful, he could serve a year at home with an electronic tag rather than go to prison.
His wife, supermodel and singer Carla Bruni, reacted by describing the case as “senseless persecution”, adding that “the fight continued, and truth would come out”.