French court upholds Sarkozy's jail term in wiretap graft case

A French appeals court upheld a prison sentence of three years, including two suspended, against former president Nicolas Sarkozy.
Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy is to appeal the verdict

PARIS - A French appeals court upheld a prison sentence of three years, including two suspended, against former president Nicolas Sarkozy for corruption and influence peddling.

The court ruled he should serve a one-year detention sentence at home with an electronic bracelet and banned him from public office for three years over his attempts to secure favours from a judge in a case uncovered by wiretapping.

Sarkozy is France's first postwar president to have been sentenced to jail.

The 68-year-old left the courtroom without making any comment, but his lawyer said they would appeal before the Court of Cassation, France's highest appeals court.

"Sarkozy is innocent... We will not give up this fight," said lawyer Jacqueline Laffont.

Sarkozy, who served one term from 2007 to 2012, has been embroiled in legal troubles ever since leaving office.

In March 2021, a court found he and his former lawyer, Thierry Herzog, had formed a "corruption pact" with judge Gilbert Azibert to obtain and share information about a legal investigation.

The trial came after investigators wiretapped Sarkozy's two official phone lines, and discovered that he also had a third unofficial one taken out in 2014 under the name "Paul Bismuth", through which he communicated with Herzog. 

The contents of these phone calls led to the 2021 corruption verdict.

The former leader contested the accusations and immediately appealed.

On the first day of the appeals hearing in December last year, Sarkozy said he had "never corrupted anybody".

His conversations with Herzog were played in court and expected to take a central role in determining Wednesday's ruling. 

The appeals court also upheld the same sentences for Herzog and former judge Azibert, and banned Sarkozy's lawyer from practising for three years.

The so-called Bismuth case is just one of several dogging the man dubbed the "hyper-president" while in office.

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