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Former French President Sarkozy Faces Corruption Charges


Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy arrives at the courtroom, Nov. 23, 2020 in Paris.

Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy went on trial Thursday to face corruption charges. Sarkozy is accused of trying to bribe a judge to obtain information about an investigation into his 2007 presidential campaign. The former head of state insists he is innocent.

It is not every day that you see a former president walking into a courtroom with his lawyers to stand trial. This unusual scene is going on in Paris where Nicolas Sarkozy is facing charges of bribery and influence peddling.

Jean-Claude Beaujour is a lawyer of the France-Ameriques association. He details the case for VOA.

“It is very unusual for a former head of state in France to be prosecuted for corruption," Beaujour said. "Former president Sarkozy is suspected for having attempted to bribe a high ranking judge in exchange for information in an ongoing judicial case concerning Nicolas Sarkozy itself.”

Prosecutors say Sarkozy promised a plush job in Monaco to a judge, in exchange for inside information on a separate inquiry into claims he accepted illicit payments from L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt during his 2007 presidential campaign.

Sarkozy has always denied the accusations.

Judges are basing their case on evidence recorded from wiretaps of phone conversations between Sarkozy and his lawyer. They are part of another probe into suspected Libyan financing of Sarkozy's 2007 campaign.

The former one-term French president contests the legality of the wiretapping. He defended himself earlier this month in an interview with French channel BFMTV.

Sarkozy regrets that all his private life was wiretapped. According to him, it is scandalous that attorney-client privilege was not respected as phone conversations are protected per the European Court of Human Rights’ jurisprudence. "I am not a crook and I am going through is a scandal," Sarkozy insisted.

The trial is expected to last three weeks. If found guilty, Sarkozy could face a prison sentence of up to 10 years and a fine of $1.2 million.

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