3 décembre 2021

BYGMALION AFFAIR: Nicolas Sarkozy convicted of one year in prison at home

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy has been given a second prison term after being convicted of illegal campaign financing for the large showman-style political rallies in his failed 2012 re-election campaign.

The 66-year-old man, who remains an influential figure on the French right, received a one-year sentence which, according to the judge, could be served under house arrest by wearing an electronic ankle bracelet.

Sarkozy is today in the extraordinary and unprecedented situation of having two custodial sentences. At the same time, he has maintained his public image, releasing a book on culture this month and being interviewed regularly on television for his views on April’s presidential race, with right-wing candidates vying for his support. .

“I will go to the end” said Sarkozy

Sentenced to one year in prison after being found guilty of illegal financing of an electoral campaign, the former head of state believes that the law “has once again been flouted by the disregard of the decisions of the Constitutional Council”.

“I will go to the end in this quest which goes beyond my personal case, because everyone can one day find themselves confronted with injustice”, added Nicolas Sarkozy, who explains having lodged an appeal “so that the court can say the right” .

However, he will not be imprisoned and will be able to serve his sentence at home with an electronic bracelet, the court ruled.

On Thursday, the Paris court ruled that while the former president may not have known all the details of the fraud, he must have found that the limits had been exceeded and did nothing about it.

This is the latest legal challenge for Mr Sarkozy, who served a five-year term as president from 2007.

In 2012, he lost his candidacy for re-election against the socialist François Hollande. Since then, he has been the subject of several criminal investigations.

Through the voice of his lawyer, Me Thierry Herzog, Nicolas Sarkozy announced his intention to immediately appeal the judgment. This appeal should therefore suspend the application of this sentence until the next trial. There will therefore be Act II of the Bygmalion affair.

In this case of campaign account overruns, the prosecution requested a year in prison, including six months suspended, against the former head of state. He was on trial for spending double the amount authorized to campaign in 2012, around 40 million euros against 20 authorized. The court therefore went beyond the prosecution’s requisitions, pronouncing the maximum penalty incurred for this offense. The law does not provide for a penalty of ineligibility.

“President Sarkozy asked me to go and appeal, which I will do immediately when I get out of here,” Thierry Herzog, the former president’s lawyer, told the press as soon as he left the hearing. . During the trial, which lasted 5 weeks in May and June, the lawyer had to be absent for health reasons, and was unable to plead for his client.

One year in prison, under an electronic bracelet. Nicolas Sarkozy was sentenced on Thursday, September 30, by the Paris court for “illegal campaign financing” following the Bygmalion trial.

Through the voice of his lawyer, Me Thierry Herzog, Nicolas Sarkozy announced his intention to immediately appeal the judgment. This appeal should therefore suspend the application of this sentence until the next trial. There will therefore be Act II of the Bygmalion affair.

In this case of campaign account overruns, the prosecution requested a year in prison, including six months suspended, against the former head of state. He was on trial for spending double the amount authorized to campaign in 2012, around 40 million euros against 20 authorized. The court therefore went beyond the prosecution’s requisitions, pronouncing the maximum penalty incurred for this offense. The law does not provide for a penalty of ineligibility.

“President Sarkozy asked me to go and appeal, which I will do immediately when I get out of here,” Thierry Herzog, the former president’s lawyer, told the press as soon as he left the hearing. . During the trial, which lasted 5 weeks in May and June, the lawyer had to be absent for health reasons, and was unable to plead for his client.

The president of the court Caroline Viguier estimated that Nicolas Sarkozy, candidate in 2012, had “the conscience and the will to commit an offense”. A crucial point because, without intention, there is no offense. Two warning notes, written by the accountants of her campaign, were brought to her attention, argued the magistrate. “He knew the amount of the cap, it was not his first campaign, he was warned of the risk in writing. And yet, “he continued his meetings under the same conditions as before.”

Unlike his 13 co-defendants, Nicolas Sarkozy was not blamed for the double billing system designed to hide the explosion in authorized campaign spending. During the five-week trial in May-June, he did not come to court until the day he was questioned. At his hearing, he even denied the spending explosion.

In the end, Sarkozy’s campaign expenses amounted to at least 42.8 million euros, nearly double the legal limit.

Although Sarkozy is the first modern former French leader to receive a prison sentence, he is not the first to be convicted in court. In 2011, Jacques Chirac, then aged 79, received a two-year suspended prison sentence for corruption committed while he was mayor of Paris.

Sarkozy faces other ongoing legal inquiries. He has been formally investigated in what is potentially France’s most explosive political finance scandal in decades: allegations he secretly received € 50m from the former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi for his successful election campaign in 2007. Sarkozy has repeatedly denied these allegations, calling them “grotesque”.

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