For years, france’s ex-president nicolas sarkozy has been the focus of judicial attention because of various affairs. Now, for the second time in just a few months, a court has sentenced him to imprisonment.
For illegal campaign financing, the court in paris on thursday imposed a one-year prison sentence on the former head of state, who did not appear at the palace of justice for the sentencing itself. The 66-year-old can serve his sentence as an electronically monitored house arrest with a shackle. Whether it will really come to that, however, is still an open question. As with the jail sentence in march, sarkozy’s defense filed an appeal.
Numerous camera teams and media crowded the hearing room in the modern paris judicial complex this morning. Although politicians in france have often ended up in court because of unclear money flows, the criminal trial against the ex-president had rare value. Not least because the case against the ex-president known as "sarko" involves huge sums of money.
Because in his ultimately failed 2012 re-election campaign, sarkozy significantly exceeded the costs capped for reasons of equal opportunity between the candidates. Instead of the 22.5 million euros allowed, sarkozy’s team spent at least 42.8 million, court finds.
To cover up the overspending, his UMP party – since renamed the republicans – camouflaged the spending through a system of fictitious accounting, the ruling said. Sarkozy is not said to have invented the system, but he ignored two written warnings from accountants and made further campaign appearances at additional cost.
In the sentencing, the presiding judge stressed the particular seriousness of the offenses, spoke of a large sum of money and a number of manipulated documents. Sarkozy knew the ceiling for campaign spending. It was also not his first election campaign. The conservative sab from 2007 to 2012 in the elysee palace.
Sarkozy had denied the accusations. The prosecution had demanded one year imprisonment, half of it on probation, and a fine. Sarkozy’s defense pleaded for acquittal.
In the proceedings, 13 other people stood trial on suspicion of fraud and aiding and abetting. The court found them all guilty and handed down sentences of between two and three and a half years. These were partly suspended on preservation and can otherwise be spent in house arrest.
Sentencing for sarkozy comes just a few months after a previous defeat in court. In march, in another affair, he was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment, two of them on probation, for bribery and exerting undue influence. The ex-president filed an appeal. And the french judiciary continues to investigate the former hopeful of france’s civic right over his first election campaign in 2007. The accusation of payments from libya is in the air
Sarkozy is not the first former high-ranking politician in france to be found guilty in court. Ex-president jacques chirac received a two-year suspended sentence in 2011 for embezzlement and breach of trust during his time as paris mayor. Former premiers francois fillon, alain juppe and edith cresson were also convicted of various offenses.