Brussels (Brussels Morning) A new trial of former French President Nicolas Sarkozy got underway Wednesday, just two weeks after he was found guilty of corruption in a landmark trial that ended in a the first ever jail sentence for a post-war president of France, AFP reported.
Despite denying any wrongdoing, Sarkozy was sentenced to three years in prison, two of them suspended, on charges of corruption and influence peddling. The verdict found that Sarkozy used his influence to get a judge to provide him with details of another investigation against him, in exchange for a coveted judicial posting in Monaco.
Even though the judge, Gilbert Azibert, never received the posting, he nevertheless provided Sarkozy with the desired information, leaving the court to rule that an unsuccessful attempt at corruption is as illegal as a successful one.
In today’s trial, the former president is accused of overspending on his failed 2012 reelection bid by some 20 million euro over the legal cap of 22.5 million euro that candidates were allowed to spend during the second round of their election campaigns.
The money was reportedly spent on lavish US-style rallies as Sarkozy struggled to catch up with his challenger, the Socialist candidate Francois Hollande, who went on to win the presidency in 2012. Sarkozy’s spending in the second round came to nearly 43 million euro, according to the prosecutors.
Sarkozy and several party officials are accused of conspiring to conceal the excessive spending by covering the bill through a system of fake invoices, some involving the Bygmalion PR firm that managed the campaign. Bygmalion executives and Sarkozy’s deputy campaign manager, Jermoe Lavrilleux, have acknowledged there was a system of fake invoices in place. Lavrilleux, tearfully admitted as much when confessing the scam during a French TV interview in 2014.