A “case-in-law” triggered by surveillance has put former French President Nicolas Sarkozy facing jail. On March 1, local time, the Paris Criminal Court sentenced Sarkozy to three years in prison for corruption and influence peddling, with two years suspended for execution.
As the first French leader to appear in court on criminal charges since World War II and the first former president to be convicted of corruption, Sarkozy’s political career may come to an end. The Republican Party, one of France’s two major parties, may also be Before the 2022 parliamentary elections, they are once again in a state of no leader. After the verdict was announced, Sarkozy frowned, “showing an expression of anger,” and left the court without a word. However, even if the appeal fails, Sarkozy does not need to go to jail. Local law stipulates that one year’s imprisonment can be executed by restricting residence at home or wearing electronic shackles.
Sarkozy and Republican supporters identified this as a “political case.” Sarkozy’s wife and French supermodel Bruni also supported her husband, calling the sentence a “meaningless persecution” and saying that Sarkozy will continue to fight and “the truth will come to light.”
This verdict is the windfall of an anti-corruption investigation authorized by French President Hollande eight years ago. In September 2013, the French judiciary began to monitor Sarkozy, who was just out of office, with the purpose of investigating whether he illegally accepted 50 million euros in political donations from the then Libyan leader Gaddafi in the 2007 presidential election. The investigation has so far been inconclusive, and several key witnesses have withdrawn the charges against Sarkozy. But while monitoring the conversation between Sarkozy and his lawyer Herzog, the judicial officers discovered a “criminal case”. When Sarkozy was communicating with his lawyer under a pseudonym, he knew well about the progress of another judicial investigation against him. Judge Archiebel of the French Supreme Court of Criminal Appeal was suspected of leaking secrets to Sarkozy. Sarkozy once talked with his lawyer, Herzog, and said that he could help Archiebel get a position as a court counselor in the Principality of Monaco.
On November 23, 2020, Sarkozy appeared in court in Paris, France. Picture/surging image
Surrounding the many key logics in this corruption case by Sarkozy, diametrically opposed views have emerged among the French legal elite. Because the French prosecutors did not find actual evidence that Sarkozy used his power to help Archiebel for personal gain, Sur, a well-known French criminal defense lawyer and former chairman of the Paris Bar Association, argued that Sarkozy’s “influence peddling” crime cannot be convicted. The Federation of French Judges The chairman and senior judge Celine Pariso pointed out tit-for-tatly that the judgment was “focused on intent, not result.” However, Dominique, who is also a well-known French criminal defense lawyer, believes that the prosecution’s actions are not illegal. The reason is that the dialogue between the lawyer and the client needs to have a prerequisite, that is, the judiciary has not suspected that the lawyer himself is involved in a crime.
However, unlike the evasive attitude of former French President Chirac when he was convicted of embezzlement of public funds, this time, almost all traditional right-wing leaders have clearly sided with Sarkozy. “The punishment that Sarkozy has suffered is absolutely disproportionate, and the judicial system has been disrupted!” Jacobs, the current chairman of the Republican Party, the mainstream right-wing political party in which Sarkozy belongs, publicly opposed the court’s decision on March 1.
Senate Majority Leader Bruno also emphasized that Sarkozy was “very severely sentenced for trivial matters”, implying that the trial was for the Macron government to crack down on political opponents for the 2022 election. In the 2020 municipal elections, due to the rise of the center-left party, the Green Party, the Kadima Party led by the current French President Macron lost in elections in important cities such as Marseille, Lyon, Bordeaux, and Strasbourg.
In 2022, Macron and the Kadima Party will face the big test of the presidential and congressional elections, and their biggest rival is now the Republican Party, the second largest party in Congress and the majority party in the Senate.