Monday 1 March 2021 1:51 pm

Former French President Sarkozy sentenced to three years in jail

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy has been sentenced to three years in jail for corruption charges, after he was found guilty of trying to bribe a magistrate.

Two years of the three-year sentence will be suspended, and it is unlikely the former President will spend a single day in jail.

The remaining one-year prison term can be served at home under house arrest, in which Sarkozy will be required to wear an electronic tag.

The former President, who served as leader of France from 2007 until 2012, is expected to appeal the verdict.

Judge Christine Mée ruled that Sarkozy forged a “corruption pact” with his lawyer and a senior magistrate, after finding “serious evidence” of collaboration between the three men to break the law.

A Paris court had heard how the ex-President instructed his lawyer, Thierry Herzog, to offer Gilbert Azibert, a senior magistrate, a prestigious job in Monaco in return for information about a criminal inquiry into his political party. 

Herzog and Azibert received the same sentence.

Sarkozy becomes the second French President in a decade to be convicted after leaving office. The late Jacques Chirac, who served as President of France from 1995 to 2007, was convicted in 2011 of misusing public funds while serving as the mayor of Paris and was handed a suspended sentence.

Today’s verdict will likely collapse any hopes for Sarkozy to return to French politics in time for next year’s presidential election.

Sarkozy has repeatedly denied accusations of corruption, said he welcomed the tribunal as a chance to “clean my name”.

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French detectives began monitoring Sarkozy’s communications in 2013 as part of an investigation into claims he had received illegal donations from former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi to fund his successful 2007 presidential campaign.

They are understood to have stumbled upon the corruption claims involving Azibert and Herzog whilst wiretapping Sarkozy’s phone calls.