Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy has been found guilty of corruption. The judge sentenced him to three years in prison, two of which are suspended.
The prosecutors had demanded a four-year sentence, of which he would have to serve at least two. It is still unclear whether Sarkozy will appeal.
The judge said in the ruling that Sarkozy can file a request to serve the sentence at home with an ankle bracelet.
Sarkozy was found guilty of attempting to bribe the Solicitor General in 2014. In exchange for confidential information about a criminal case in which he was mentioned, he offered Gilbert Azibert a job in Monaco.
The judge charged him with the case because he abused his status as a former president and as a former lawyer was “well aware” that he was involved in criminal offenses.
Sarkozy (66) was president of France from 2007 to 2012.
In his statement to court in December, Sarkozy said he was the victim of lies. “I have never misused my perceived or actual influence,” he said. “What right do they have to put me in the mud like this for six years? Is there no rule of law?”
“I didn’t even think about the fact that we were doing something that was unacceptable,” he said in December. He also stated that he did not receive any confidential information from Azibert.
In an investigation into the 2007 election campaign, the judiciary taped conversations between Sarkozy and his lawyer Thierry Herzog. It was accidentally discovered that the two were having other conversations, via a secret telephone with a different name.
Sarkozy may have been tipped off at some point that the phone was bugged and that is why Azibert ultimately did not get the job in Monaco.
Azibert stood trial together with Sarkozy and his lawyer Herzog. The two lawyers received the same punishment as the former president. They too have consistently denied the allegations.
‘No shred of evidence’
Sarkozy’s lawyer in the criminal case said in her plea that the whole case is based on “conversations between a lawyer and his client.” There is no shred of evidence, there are no testimonies, she told the judge.
Later this month, Sarkozy will be on trial again, along with thirteen others. Then it concerns allegations of illegal financing of the campaign for the 2012 presidential election, which he lost to the socialist François Hollande.
Sarkozy is still popular among right-wing conservative voters and plays an important role behind the scenes.