Sarkozy Convicted by French Court in Campaign Financing Case

PARIS (AP) -
French former President Nicolas Sarkozy. (Ludovic Marin/Pool via AP, file)

French ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy was convicted and sentenced to a year of house arrest Thursday for illegal campaign financing of his unsuccessful 2012 reelection bid.

The court will allow him to serve the sentence at home by wearing an electronic monitoring bracelet.

Sarkozy, France’s President from 2007 to 2012, had vigorously denied wrongdoing during the trial in May and June. He can appeal the decision, which would suspend the sentence.

Sarkozy wasn’t present at the Paris court for the ruling. He was accused of having spent almost twice the maximum legal amount of 22.5 million euros ($27.5 million) on the reelection bid that he lost to Socialist François Hollande.

The court stated that Sarkozy “knew” the legal limit was at stake and “voluntarily” failed to supervise additional expenses. Prosecutors had requested a six-month prison term, as well as a six-month suspended sentence and a fine of 3,750 euros ($4,354).

Thursday’s verdict comes after Sarkozy, 66, was found guilty on March 1 of corruption and influence-peddling in another case. He was given a year in prison and two years suspended in that case but is free pending appeal.

In the campaign financing case, prosecutors concluded that Sarkozy knew weeks before the 2012 election that his expenses — which are strictly limited under French law — were getting close to the legal maximum. They accused him of having ignored two notes from his accountants warning about the money issue.

Prosecutors argued Sarkozy is “the only person responsible for his campaign financing” and that he chose to exceed the limit by organizing many rallies, including giant ones.

Sarkozy retired from active politics in 2017, but is still playing a role behind the scenes. French media have reported that he is involved in the process of choosing a conservative candidate ahead of France’s presidential election next year.