French court upholds home detention for Former French President Sarkozy in wiretap graft case

PARIS – A French appeals court on Wed nesday 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 one year in detention at home with an electronic bracelet and banned him from public office for three years.

He had been found guilty over his attempts to secure favours from a judge in return for the promise of a plum retirement job in a case uncovered by wiretapping.

Sarkozy is France’s first post-war president to have been sentenced to serve time.

But the 68-year-old’s lawyer said they would appeal the sentence before the Court of Cassation, France’s highest appeals court, which would suspend the punishment from being implemented.

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

The exact terms of any home detention once the appeals process has been exhausted were not immediately clear.

Sarkozy, who was president for one term between 2007 and 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.

‘Firm penal response’

The trial came after investigators looking into another case of alleged illegal campaign financing wiretapped Sarkozy’s two official phone lines, and discovered that he also had a third unofficial one.

It had been taken out in 2014 under the name “Paul Bismuth”, and only used for him to communicate with Herzog.

The contents of these phone calls led to the 2021 corruption verdict, which the former leader contested and immediately appealed.

On the first day of the appeals hearing in December, Sarkozy said he had “never corrupted anybody”.