A French appeals court is due to deliver its verdict on Wednesday in one of several corruption and illegal campaign financing cases involving former President Nicolas Sarkozy.
The 68-year-old served one term from 2007 to 2012 and has been embroiled in legal battles since leaving office.
In March 2021, he was sentenced to three years in prison for corruption and influence over secret phone lines uncovered through wiretapping — two of them on probation and the other wearing an electronic bracelet at home.
The court found that Sarkozy and his former lawyer Thierry Herzog had entered into a “corrupt agreement” with judge Gilbert Achibert to obtain and share information about the legal investigation.
Investigators tapped two of Sarkozy’s official phone lines. They discovered that he had taken out a third unofficial one in 2014 under the name “Paul Bismuth,” through which he communicated with Herzog.
The content of those calls led to the corruption conviction in 2021.
The former leader contested the charges and immediately appealed his conviction.
On the first day of his appeal hearing in December, he said he had “never corrupted anyone”.
His conversation with Herzog is now taking place in court for the first time and will be at the heart of what will determine Wednesday’s ruling.
The prosecutor’s office asked for three years of probation each for Sarkozy, Herzog and Archibald.
They also demanded the suspension of Sarkozy and Archibald, 76, and the suspension of Herzog, 67, from practicing law for five years each.
Two other cases
The so-called Bismuth case is just one of several pursuing the man who was dubbed the “super president” while in office.
Sarkozy is due to be retried on appeal in November 2023 in the so-called Bygmalion case, which first sentenced him to a year in prison.
Prosecutors accused Sarkozy’s team of spending nearly double the legal limit on his lavish 2012 re-election campaign, using bogus billing from a public relations firm called Bygmalion. He denies any wrongdoing.
On Thursday, French prosecutors asked him to face a new trial on allegations that Libya financed his 2007 election campaign.
French financial crimes prosecutors say Sarkozy and 12 others should stand trial for accusing them of seeking millions of euros from the regime of then-Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi to support his eventual Victory campaign.
Sarkozy has been accused of corruption, illegal campaign financing and concealment of embezzlement, but has always denied all charges.
The investigating judge has the final say on whether the trial should proceed.
Despite his legal troubles, Sarkozy still enjoys considerable influence and popularity on the right wing of French politics and has the attention of current President Emmanuel Macron.