Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy is seen ahead of the French L1 football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Ajaccio at the Parc des Princes in Paris, on May 13, 2023. The Paris Court of Appeals will on May 17, 2023 rule on Sarkozy's bid to overturn a conviction for bribery and influence-peddling. (PHOTO / AFP)
PARIS – The Paris Court of Appeals will on Wednesday rule on Nicolas Sarkozy's bid to overturn a conviction for bribery and influence-peddling, one of several legal battles the former French president has been fighting over the past decade.
A lower court in 2021 found Sarkozy guilty of trying to bribe a judge after leaving office, and of peddling influence in exchange for confidential information about an investigation into his 2007 campaign finances.
In 2013, investigators looking into the Libyan connection decided to wire-tap two of Nicolas Sarkozy's phone lines. As they did, they discovered a secret phone line used by the ex-president and his lawyer, ultimately leading to the corruption investigation
He was sentenced to three years in jail, two of them suspended, in what was a stunning fall from grace for a former president who once bestrode the world.
Sarkozy, 68, who served one term as French president from 2007 to 2012, has constantly denied any wrongdoing.
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Earlier this month, financial prosecutors in a separate case requested Sarkozy face trial on charges of corruption and illegal financing of an election campaign related to alleged Libyan funding of his 2007 presidential bid.
The case at the center of Wednesday's appeals court ruling – known in France as the "wiretapping affair" – is indirectly linked to the suspicion of illegal Libyan financing.
In 2013, investigators looking into the Libyan connection decided to wire-tap two of Sarkozy's phone lines. As they did, they discovered a secret phone line used by the ex-president and his lawyer, ultimately leading to the corruption investigation.
During the appeals trial, Sarkozy said "I'm here to defend my honor, which has been violated. I'm here to convince the court that I did nothing", his voice trembling.
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"Am I a serious offender because I'm calling…my lawyer and friend?" he said, referring to phone conversations with his lawyer, who is also standing trial along with Sarkozy and a judge who according to prosecutors were part of the conspiracy.
The public prosecutor has requested a three-year suspended jail term, a slightly milder sentence than the initial conviction.
The only other president during the course of France's 64-year-old Fifth Republic to be convicted by a court was Sarkozy's conservative predecessor, the late Jacques Chirac, who was found guilty of corruption in 2011.