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Former French President Sarkozy in crisis

Posted June. 19, 2021 07:19,   

Updated June. 19, 2021 07:19


French prosecutors, having indicted former French President Nicholas Sarkozy (66) for taking illegal political funds ahead of the 2012 presidential election, demanded the court to hand him a one-year prison sentence with six-month probation plus a fine of 3,570 euros (about 4,467 U.S. dollars) on Thursday.

According to news outlets including AFP, French public prosecutors called for a six-month jail term, saying, “Former President Sarkozy is not atoning for amassing illegal funds for the past presidential election, considering that he has failed to appear before the court for hearings.” Sarkozy is denying all charges against him. “I had been in politics for 40 years. Politics was my life, and I know how election campaigns are staged,” he claimed before court on Tuesday..

Sarkozy served as the president from 2007 to 2012. He ran for reelection in 2012 but lost to Socialist Party candidate Francois Orland. At the time, the French law had the cap of 22.5 million euros (about 26.8 million dollars) for permissible election campaign expenses, but Sarkozy reportedly spent at least 42.8 million euros (about 50 million dollars).

In 2014, Sarkozy requested a Supreme Court justice to provide classified information regarding the investigation into the illegal political funds while offering the justice a job after the justice’s retirement. As a result, Sarkozy was already sentenced to three years in prison with a two-year probation in March this year. It was the first case wherein a former president has been convicted for corruption charges since the inauguration of the Fifth Republic of France in 1958.

If the court hands a ruling as demanded by prosecutors, the ex-president will be taken into custody for six months other than the probationary period. But considering the practice in France where only a convict sentenced to two years or longer in prison actually is sent to prison, Sarkozy will more likely be put under house arrest.

Youn-Jong Kim zozo@donga.com