Ex-French president will be tried for corruption

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Nicolas Sarkozy has denied any wrongdoing in all investigations against him. (FILE)

Paris:

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy will be tried on Monday for attempting to bribe and influence a judge. This is one of several criminal investigations that threaten to overshadow his decades-long political career.

Prosecutors claim Sarkozy offered to offer Judge Gilbert Azibert in exchange for confidential information about an investigation into allegations that Sarkozy accepted illegal payments from L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt for his 2007 presidential campaign to secure a plum job in Monaco.

Sarkozy, who led France from 2007 to 2012 and continued to exert influence among the Conservatives, denied any wrongdoing in all investigations against him and fought vigorously to have the cases dismissed.

Investigators had wiretapped conversations between Sarkozy and his lawyer Thierry Herzog from 2013 when they were dealing with allegations of Libyan funding in Sarkozy’s 2007 campaign.

They learned that Sarkozy and his lawyer were communicating on cell phones registered under false names. Sarkozy’s phone was registered with a Paul Bismuth.

Prosecutors said the wiretapping revealed that Sarkozy and Herzog had spoken several times about contacting Azibert, a judge in the Cour de Cassation, France’s main criminal appeals court, and were well informed about the Bettencourt investigation.

They claim Sarkozy offered to help Azibert get the job in Monaco in exchange for inside help.

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“Mr. Azibert never got the job in Monaco,” Sarkozy told BFM TV this month.

Herzog and Azibert are both on trial with Sarkozy, who is charged with corruption and influence. They are also accused of “breaching professional secrecy”. All three face up to 10 years’ imprisonment and heavy fines if convicted.

Sarkozy and his center-right Les Republicains have said for years the investigation into the former president is politically motivated.

This coming March, Sarkozy will face charges of violating campaign funding rules during his failed 2012 re-election bid. The so-called “Bygmalion” case centers on allegations that Sarkozy’s party worked with a friendly public relations firm to hide the real cost of his campaign.

Prosecutors are still investigating allegations that former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi endowed Sarkozy’s 2007 election campaign with millions of euros shipped in suitcases to Paris – allegations that Sarkozy denies. Its main accused, a Franco-Lebanese businessman, withdrew his account of what happened that month.

(This story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)

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