Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy got sentenced by the Court of Appeals in a corruption case. EPA-EFE/YOAN VALAT


Former French president Sarkozy given jail term


Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy has been sentenced to a one-year prison term for illegal campaign finance by the French Court of Appeal, marking a reduction in his original sentence.

Half of the sentence handed down by the Paris court on February 14 is suspended and can be served through alternative means such as wearing an electronic tag-bracelet.

The former president has already served a full year in prison but had contested the court’s judgment in that case. Now, the same court has cut the term in half.

His lawyer announced Sarkozy would appeal this ruling as well.

Sarkozy “vigorously denied any criminal responsibility” during the appeals trial, claiming the charges were based on “lies” and “fables”.

The Court of Appeals’ decision acknowledged that Sarkozy spent €43 million on his 2012 presidential campaign, which he lost to Socialist contender François Hollande. The outlay was almost double the €22.5 million cap set by French law.

The court determined that Sarkozy had asked to keep holding campaign meetings, despite knowing that going over the spending cap for his 2012 presidential campaign would be potentially problematic.

He will now be summoned within 30 days by a parole judge.

In the initial trial, alongside Sarkozy, 13 others were found guilty. They were given prison terms of up to three and a half years, with some of those terms being suspended. Ten of these people filed appeals and, last November, they were retried.

The case, referred to as the “Bygmalion affair” after the communications and events organisation company hired by Sarkozy’s centre-right party, revolved around accusations of fabricating invoices to conceal the true costs incurred during the campaign and of engaging in fraudulent invoicing.

There are more cases hanging over the former French leader.

He is scheduled to go on trial in 2025 over accusations he stole money from the late Libyan revolutionary leader Muammar Gaddafi to finance his 2007 presidential campaign unlawfully.

Sarkozy denies any wrongdoing and insists he has been “accused without any physical evidence”.

He had already sentenced to three years in prison, with two years suspended, for trying to buy off a judge through influence peddling and corruption, in March 2021.

That made him the first former president of France since the Second World War to serve a prison term. Sarkozy appealed against that decision as well.