Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy was convicted today by a Paris court of corruption and sentenced to three years in prison and two years of probation for illegally influencing a judge before he left office. The verdict is likely to undermine any attempt by Sarkozy to return to the French political arena.
AFP reports that the two-year suspended sentence means Sarkozy (Nicolas Sarkozy) will likely not actually go to jail and will retain his freedom of movement because the judge did not issue an arrest warrant for him. Sarkozy will appeal, his lawyer said.
Sarkozy, 66, was president of France between 2007 and 2012 and is still widely loved by the French right. He has denied any ambition to return to politics, but many supporters want him to run in next year’s presidential election. The verdict now casts the latest uncertainty on his controversial political career.
Only one other president in French history has faced a court trial after leaving office, and that was Sarkozy’s political mentor, Jacques Chirac. He was accused of embezzling public funds to finance his own political party while he was mayor of Paris and was charged with embezzlement; when the trial began in 2011, Chirac was granted a leave of absence for health reasons and was eventually given a two-year suspended sentence.
Sarkozy was involved in receiving illegal payments from L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt. Sarkozy was involved in the case of receiving money from Liliane Bettencourt, the heir of L’Oreal, and finally got out of it. But in addition to the case announced today, he is also facing at least three other legal investigations.
Sarkozy is expected to appear in court for one of the lawsuits, which is also related to a suspected fraudulent election spending during his 2012 re-election campaign. He was not re-elected that year either.
Sarkozy is also being prosecuted for allegedly receiving millions of euros from former Libyan dictator Moamer Kadhafi when he ran for office in 2007. In addition, French prosecutors launched another case against Sarkozy in January this year, suspecting that his consultancy activities in Russia involved lobbying.
Sarkozy’s long-running lawsuit led to his failed attempt to make a comeback in the 2017 presidential election. Yet his popularity has grown with each passing day since he announced his retirement from politics in 2018.
When Sarkozy held a book signing for his latest memoir, “The Time of Storms,” last summer, there were long lines of supporters. The book was also at the top of the best-seller list for weeks.