Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy convicted, sentenced in corruption case

A court in Paris on Monday rendered a guilty verdict against former French President Nicolas Sarkozy on charges of influence peddling and corruption, also handing him a one year term of incarceration and a two-year suspended sentence, according to the Associated Press.

Sarkozy, 66, who led France between the years of 2007 and 2012, was accused of attempting to bribe a magistrate back in 2014 to obtain details of another legal case in which he was personally implicated.

Also found guilty in the matter were two co-defendants, Sarkozy’s attorney and friend, Thierry Herzog, and now-retired magistrate Gilbert Azibert, from whom the former president was convicted of bribing, as CBS News reported. All three men received the same sentence at the conclusion of the case.

Though Sarkozy steadfastly denied the charges against him, the court ruled that the three co-defendants had participated in a “pact of corruption,” and that the former president’s actions were “particularly serious” because they involved an abuse of status by a politician who, as a trained lawyer, was “perfectly informed” that what he was doing was illegal.

Sarkozy’s legal headaches are not over, as he and 13 others are set to face trial again later in March over allegations of campaign finance violations related to his presidential campaign in 2012 in which he lost to Socialist candidate Francois Hollande, as the AP noted.

Monday’s outcome represents the first time in modern French history that a conviction and a term of incarceration have been handed down against a former president. While Jacques Chirac was convicted in 2011 of misusing public money while he served as the mayor of Paris, he received no jail time, only a suspended sentence of two years, according to NBC News.

France 24 reported that Sarkozy plans to lodge an appeal of his conviction which his lawyer characterized as “totally unfounded and unjustified.”

The brief nature of the sentence received by Sarkozy means that it is unlikely he will be physically required to report to prison, as incarceration in France typically only applies to terms longer than two years, France 24 added. Sarkozy is expected to exercise his right to request home detention with electronic monitoring.

Never content to let a Trump-bashing opportunity go to waste, voices on the left were quick to draw parallels to Sarkozy’s prosecution in France to what they hope will happen soon to Joe Biden’s predecessor in office. American actor Kirk Acevedo seized upon the Sarkozy conviction to tweet his approval, saying, “Setting precedence for President’s [sic]! DONALD TRUMP IS NEXT…”.