(Brussels Morning) Nicolas Sarkozy has been found guilty of corruption for the second time this year and has been sentenced to one year of house arrest. The former French President was found guilty on Thursday for illegally financing his political campaign for the 2012 general elections, which he lost to socialist François Hollande.
The court said that Sarkozy was aware that the costs of his campaign exceeded almost twice the legal limit of 22.5 million euros well in advance. He was therefore responsible for unlawful financing and sentenced to one year in prison, which the court determined to allow him serve at home wearing an electronic bracelet.
The court ruled that the former conservative leader “voluntarily” failed to supervise excess spending during the campaign. Prosecutors requested a 3750 euro fine, a six-month prison term and a six-month suspended sentence, but the former president will likely avoid serving jail time.
According to his lawyer, Thierry Herzog, “Sarko” will appeal the ruling, in effect suspending it. He will also be able to spend whatever sentence her serves at his luxury home.
The former president did not attend the Paris court for the pronouncement of the verdict and has consistently denied any wrongdoing.
Too busy “to discuss the cost of flags”
In June, he demanded of the court hearing the case: “Can you imagine me going into a meeting to discuss the cost of flags?”
“I had too much to do,” he added.
This is the second time this year that the former leader of the French Republican Party (RN) has been found guilty of corruption. In March, the 66-year-old was found guilty of trying to illegally obtain information from a senior magistrate about a legal action he was involved in back in 2014. He was sentenced to three years in prison, two of which were suspended. He has yet to spend any time behind bars since his appeal is pending.
Sarkozy has not offered himself as a candidate for next year’s general elections but he plays an influential role behind the scenes in the RN party. However, the expectation is that this year’s convictions will ensure he expresses his political convictions more quietly – at least publicly— when seeking a voice on party decisions.
A Politico poll shows current centrist president Emmanuel Macron as favorite for next year’s elections, followed by far-right Marine Le Pen. The RN is to choose its candidate in a closed conference on 4 December.