The trial of former French President Nicolas Sarkozy in a corruption case will begin on Monday, November 23, alongside his lawyer Thierry Herzog and former judge Gilbert Aziber.
The 65-year-old former president described the trial as “a scandal that will go down in history”, pledging to go to court with a “combat” spirit as part of this unprecedented trial.
Former President Jacques Chirac was sentenced in 2011 to two years in prison for embezzlement of public funds through fake jobs in the Paris municipality.
However, he did not appear before judges due to his health condition. But Sarkozy is the first French president to be brought before a court in a corruption case.
Sarkozy, who withdrew from politics after losing the primaries in late 2016, faces a 10-year prison sentence and a million euros fine over charges of corruption and abuse of influence.
The trial, which is expected to continue until December 10, is subject to the risks posed by the Covid-19 epidemic, and Aziber filed a request for an adjournment due to health conditions.
This so-called “wiretapping” case originates from another court file threatening Sarkozy, which is the suspicion that he obtained Libyan funding for his presidential campaign in 2007.
In this context, the judges decided in September 2013 to subject the former president to wiretapping, after discovering that he was using a secret line, under the name of “Paul Bismuth”, to communicate with his lawyer, Thierry Herzog.
According to the Public Prosecution, some of their conversations revealed corruption files, as Sarkozy was seeking, through his lawyer, to assist Judge Aziber to appoint him to a position in Monaco, which he did not ultimately obtain.
In exchange, this judge provided information, supposed to be confidential, about a lawsuit that Sarkozy filed against the Court of Cassation on the sidelines of another file “Betancourt file” and tried to influence his colleagues on this issue.
After the court decided that there was no legal basis for his trial in the Betancourt case in 2013, Sarkozy submitted to the Court of Cassation a request to cancel the confiscation of his presidential records, which could have been of interest to the judiciary in other cases related to him.
In Sarkozy’s conversations with his attorney, the president pledges to intervene in favour of Judge Aziber, saying, “I will support him.”
Shortly, Sarkozy told his lawyer that he had withdrawn from launching proceedings with the Monaco authorities.
The investigators believe that this sudden change may have arisen from the two men’s discovery that their official lines are being wired.
In October 2017, the Financial Prosecutor’s Office likened Sarkozy’s methods to that of a “seasoned criminal.”