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French Ex-Leader Sarkozy to Be Tried on Corruption, Influence Peddling Charges

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy leaves after a ceremony for late Lt. Col. Arnaud Beltrame at the Hotel des Invalides in Paris, March 28, 2018. Sarkozy has been ordered to stand trial on accusations that he tried to illegally get information from a judge about an investigation targeting him.

Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy was ordered to stand trial Thursday on charges of corruption and influence peddling.

The case focuses on phone calls Sarkozy allegedly made to a judge who was investigating claims that his 2007 presidential campaign was illegally funded.

The hard-charging conservative politician allegedly offered to help the judge get promoted in exchange for information about the investigation into his campaign. In a phone call to Judge Gilbert Azibert, then a senior judge in France's highest court, Sarkozy allegedly offered to help him get a coveted position in neighboring Monaco. The phone call was wiretapped by police.

The latest development comes only days after an investigation was launched into claims Sarkozy accepted illegal financial donations from late Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi for his successful presidential campaign 11 years ago.

Sarkozy denies any wronging and his lawyers said they would appeal the decision to prosecute him at a hearing June 25.

Sarkozy's lawyer, Thierry Herzog, and former magistrate Azibert have also been ordered to stand trial.

Thursday's court announcement is the second time Sarkozy has been ordered to stand trial. A judged ordered him and 13 others to trial last year to face charges of illegal financing of his 2012 presidential campaign. Sarkozy appealed that order and a decision is pending.

Sarkozy lost his party's primary election for the 2017 presidential campaign, and has largely stayed out of politics since.