Two weeks after being convicted for corruption, former French President Nicolas Sarkozy went on trial on Wednesday in the Bygmalion case relating to forgery and overspending during his failed 2012 presidential campaign.
Sarkozy, who served as president from 2007 to 2012, did not attend the hearing and was represented by his lawyer, Thierry Herzog.
The 66-year-old is accused along with 14 others, including former officials of public relations agency Bygmalion and his political party, accountants, and campaign managers.
They face charges of forgery, use of forgery, breach of trust, and complicity in illegal financing of Sarkozy’s election bid.
Prosecutors say he spent more than €43 million ($51 million) on the failed re-election campaign, well over the authorized limit of €22.5 million ($26.8 million).
The illegal electoral expenses were covered up through false invoices by Bygmalion to Sarkozy’s party, known at the time as the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP).
Sarkozy has denied any wrongdoing, but a former campaign deputy director, Jerome Lavrilleux, admitted in a TV interview in 2014 that the allegations were true.
The trial is expected to last until April 15 and, if convicted, Sarkozy could be sentenced to a year in prison and a fine of €3,750 ($4,470).
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