Paris, 21 Nov 2020 (AFP) – Former President Nicolas Sarkozy will be tried this Monday (23) in Paris for corruption and influence peddling in the so-called “bugging case”, thus becoming the first former head of State to be tried for that reason in 60 years.
The 65-year-old former right-wing president (2007-2012), who denies the charges, promised that he would be “combative” at the trial.
Before Sarkozy, another former French president, Jacques Chirac (1995-2007), his predecessor and for years his political mentor, was sentenced to two years in prison for embezzlement, with the right to suspension of the sentence, but his health prevented him from appearing in court.
The wiretapping case stems from another case that threatens Nicolas Sarkozy: suspicions that he received funding from Muammar Gaddafi’s Libyan regime during the 2007 presidential campaign that elected him.
The court decided to tap the former governor’s phone, so it was discovered that he had a secret line on which he used the pseudonym “Paul Bismuth”.
According to investigators, some of their conversations revealed the existence of a corruption pact. Along with his lawyer, Thierry Herzog, Sarkozy reportedly tried to obtain secret information from another case through Judge Gilbert Azibert.
Azibert would also have tried to influence his colleagues. In return, Sarkozy would have promised the magistrate to help him secure a highly coveted position on the Monaco Council of State.
If convicted, the former president faces a sentence of up to 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of one million euros. Herzog and Azibert will be tried alongside Sarkozy, who are also accused of corruption and influence peddling.
“I’m not corrupt”
Azibert was already considered one of the main candidates for the Monaco job, but “if you give it a push, it’s always better,” Herzog told Sarkozy in a call in early 2014. “I will get him up,” replied Sarkozy, from according to the prosecution.
But a few days later, Sarkozy told his lawyer that he would not “approach” the authorities in Monaco. Sign, according to prosecutors, that the two learned that the line was tapped.
The former head of state defended himself again on Friday on the BFM television channel: “Mr Azibert never obtained a position in Monaco. The Palace of Monaco published a statement saying that ‘Nicolas Sarkozy did not intervene’ and all the magistrates questioned they said that Mr. Azibert did not intervene “.
The crime of corruption can also consist of simple offers or promises.
“I will explain myself to the court because I have always faced my obligations,” he added. And he guaranteed: “I am not corrupt.”
Sarkozy, a training lawyer, has long accused French courts of taking revenge on him. His various legal problems made it difficult for him to return to politics.