Nicolas Sarkozy

Ex-President Sarkzoy sentenced to year in prison for illegal campaign funding

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy arriving at the Paris courthouse in June.
Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy arriving at the Paris courthouse in June. © Pascal Rossignol/Reuters

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy has been sentenced to a year in prison for illegally financing his failed 2012 re-election campaign. He says he will appeal the verdict.

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Prosecutors had been seeking a one-year prison sentence, half of it suspended, for the 66-year old former president, who was not in court on Thursday for the verdict.

Reading it out on Thursday, the judge indicated that Sarkozy can serve out the sentence at home, under electronic surveillance.

Sarkozy’s conservative UMP party is accused of spending double the maximum 22.5 million limit campaign spending limit on extravagant campaign rallies.

The case is known as the Bygmalion affair, after the name of the public relations company hired by the party to run the events, and which set up a system of fake invoices to cover up their real cost.

Sarkozy denied any wrongdoing, and only appeared in court for one day of the five-week trial, where he told the court that he had not been involved in the logistics of the campaign.

But the court said that he was aware of the spending and knew it was over the legal limit, and “voluntarily” failed to supervise additional expenses.

Thirteen other people were on trial for breach of trust, forgery, fraud and complicity in illegal campaign financing, including accountants, members of Sarkozy’s party and Bygmalion executives.

Sarkozy's lawyer, Thierry Herzog, said he will appeal the verdict, as he did for the other guilty verdict handed down in March, for trying to bribe a judge and peddle influence in order to obtain confidential information on a judicial inquiry.

Sarkozy also denied wrongdoing in that case. He was sentenced to three years in jail, two of which are suspended.

Sarkozy retired from active politics in 2017, but he is reportedly involved in the process of choosing a candidate for the conservative Republicains party to run next year.

(with wires)

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