French prosecutors on Tuesday sought two years of prison and a two-year suspended sentence for former President Nicolas Sarkozy at a trial in Paris over alleged corruption and influence peddling.
Prosecutors are also seeking the same sentence for his lawyer and friend Thierry Herzog and former senior Appeals Court Magistrate Gilbert Azibert.
Sarkozy has maintained his innocence through nine separate legal inquiries by the Paris Court of Appeals over allegations that in his 2007 presidential campaign he received €50 million ($60.5 million) in support from former Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi.
The charges against him also include concealment of embezzlement of public funds, illegal financing of the campaign and the misuse of company assets. Legal proceedings have been ongoing since 2013.
Herzog and Azibert are both on trial for “breach of professional secrecy.” Prosecutors have also requested Herzog be prohibited from practicing his profession.
Over the trial this fall, investigators revealed that Sarkozy had used a second phone — registered to his friend Paul Bismuth — to hold discussions with Herzog wherein the two attempted to bribe Azibert in an attempt to obtain information from him over a different probe, one that claimed Sarkozy had accepted illicit payments from L’Oreal heiress Lilian Bettencourt for his 2007 presidential run.
For Azibert’s assistance, it is alleged that Sarkozy would return the favor with a new and more comfortable position in Monaco.
Both Sarkozy and Herzog have decried that wiretapping was a violation of their client-attorney privilege, although in 2016, its use in the investigation was sanctioned as evidence by the top court. Prosecutors had said the intent alone is sufficient to bring about a conviction.
On Monday, the former French president insisted he had done nothing wrong.
“I have never committed the slightest act of corruption. Never!”
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