A French court on Thursday sentenced former President Nicolas Sarkozy to one year in prison for illegally financing his 2012 re-election bid, seven months after he was sentenced to life in prison for corruption. A new blow came.
Sarkozy, 66, will not spend time behind bars under the terms of Thursday’s ruling, with a court ruling that he can serve him at home wearing an electronic bracelet.
He was not in court when the judge was given a maximum sentence for financing an illegal campaign after it was revealed that Sarkozy had “voluntarily neglected to monitor spending.”
Sarkozy’s lawyer, Thierry Herzog, said his clients would appeal the sentence.
Sarkozy spent more than double the legal limit of 22.5 million euros (26 26 million) on his failed bid for a second term.
The case is one of several that have emerged in connection with the investigation into Sarkozy’s case, which has largely failed to reduce his popularity among conservative voters.
In March, he became the first militant president in France to be jailed for trying to get favors from his judge.
He has accused the judiciary of wielding swords as president from 2007 to 2012.
“I have never betrayed the trust of the French people,” he told TF1 in March.
Sarkozy removed all obstacles in 2012 as he tried to stop his socialist rival Francois Hollande for a second term.
A series of spectacular American-style election rallies increased its costs, with the final bill reaching at least 42.8 million euros.
The public relations firm Bygmalion hired services to organize the events, setting up a system of fake receipts to hide the true value of the events.
Although the investigation failed to prove that Sarkozy was aware of the fraud, the court ruled that he had “undoubtedly” benefited from it.
During his five-week trial in May and June, the prosecution described him as a “horseman” about the public money available to candidates during the election campaign.
Sarkozy argued that he was too busy running the country so that the accounts could be scrutinized.
His Union for a Popular Movement Party, which has renamed the Republicans, has taken up the tab on most abuses.
Thirteen others, including Sarkozy’s former campaign manager, several Bagmalin executives and a handful of Republican directors, were also prosecuted.
He has been sentenced to three and a half years in prison, some of which are suspended.
The case failed to garner much public interest, which is considered less sensational than its first corruption case.
Sarkozy was sentenced to three years in prison for corruption and influence in the case, two of which were suspended. He has also appealed against the decision.
Even so, owning one is still beyond the reach of the average person, even if he loses his appeal.
Prior to Sarkozy, the only French leader convicted of a criminal offense was his predecessor, Jacques Chirac, who was sentenced to two years in prison in 2011 for corruption in a fake employment scandal as mayor of Paris.
Sarkozy has also been accused of receiving millions of euros from the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi for his 2007 election campaign.
And in January, the prosecution launched an investigation into the alleged influence, which included his activities as a consultant in Russia.
He cleared his legal troubles in 2016 and sought a political comeback.
But he failed to win a Republican nomination for president, losing to his former prime minister, Francois Flynn, who campaigned as a hand-washing couple.
Flynn and his wife were later convicted of fraud.
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