France: Judgment in appeal process: Sarkozy wants to continue fighting

France: Judgment in appeal process: Sarkozy wants to continue fighting

France’s former President Sarkozy is struggling with the judiciary over various affairs. His hopes for a milder sentence were dashed in an appeals process. But he doesn’t want to give up the fight.

France’s former President Nicolas Sarkozy calmly accepts the verdict in his appeals process: three years in prison for bribery and trading in influence. His hope for a milder sentence than in the first instance was disappointed. The court in Paris upheld the sentence the former Conservative star received two years ago: two years’ imprisonment suspended, but one serving Sarkozy at home under electronic surveillance. But the 68-year-old does not want to accept the guilty verdict.

“We are not giving up this fight, which is a just fight in the face of a particularly unjust verdict,” said Sarkozy’s lawyer Jacqueline Laffont, announcing an appeal. She asserted: “Nicolas Sarkozy is innocent of the crimes he is accused of.” The former head of state himself had denounced in the proceedings: “Where is the evidence? There is no evidence.” He added theatrically, “I’m defending my pride here.”

Court ignores prosecutor’s request

With its verdict, the court went beyond the request of the public prosecutor’s office, which had demanded three years’ probation. The defense wanted an acquittal. Specifically, it is about the fact that the former president is said to have tried in 2014, through his long-time lawyer Thierry Herzog, to obtain investigative secrets from the then Advocate General at the Court of Cassation, Gilbert Azibert, in another affair. In return, Azibert was offered assistance in applying for a better post.

The court sees the allegations as proven. Presiding judge Sophie Clément said in the verdict that the crimes were all the more serious because they were committed by a former president. Herzog and Azibert were also sentenced to three years in prison each, two of them on probation. The Court of Appeal upheld these penalties.

Sarkozy’s civil rights are suspended

The confirmation of the verdict is a hard blow for Sarkozy. Even in the first instance, the prison sentence against a former head of state was unprecedented in France’s recent history. For “Sarko” there is an additional hardship: the court of appeal ruled that his civil rights should be suspended for three years. This means that he is not allowed to run in elections. This would put further obstacles in the way of a comeback that has been speculated about again and again.

The case is far from the only affair for which Sarkozy has to answer. The appeal process for excessive campaign costs for his ultimately failed campaign for re-election in 2012 is scheduled to start in November. In the first instance, he was therefore sentenced to one year in prison. In addition, there is a risk of a lawsuit for alleged millions in aid from Libya for the 2007 election campaign. He denies all allegations.

Sarkozy’s tenure in the Élysée Palace from 2007 to 2012 was marked by affairs involving rich friends, nepotism and excessive members of the government. He lost the 2012 election as incumbent against the socialist François Hollande. Five years later he already failed in the internal party selection process. Despite his legal hurdles and no office, many supporters of the civil right still regard him as a leadership icon. Today Emmanuel Macron is in his second term as French President.

Source: Stern

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