AP Photo/Thibault Camus, File
A number of French MPs have declared their “unwavering support” for Nicolas Sarkozy after the former French President was convicted of corruption.
Sarkozy was sentenced to one year in prison and a two-year suspended sentence by a Paris court on Monday for trying to illegally obtain information from a magistrate in 2014.
The 66-year-old politician served as President from 2007 to 2012 and had sought details about a legal action in which he was involved. Sarkozy had firmly denied the allegations.
On social media, several members of his conservative party, Les Républicains, denounced the court’s decision.
“Unwavering support for Nicolas Sarkozy,” said party chairman Christian Jacob on Twitter.
“The severity of the sentence chosen is absolutely disproportionate and reveals the judicial persistence of an already highly contested institution.”
“Full light must be shed on the methods and independence of the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office.”
The confidentiality of communications between a lawyer and his client has been a major point of contention in the trial. Sarkozy’s defence lawyer, Jacqueline Laffont, argued the whole case was based on “small talk”.
Annie Genevard, a lawmaker and former Secretary-General of Les Républicains, said she was “stunned” by the court’s decision.
“I would like to express my support and friendship in this ordeal,” she added on Twitter.
Sarkozy’s sentence is the first time in modern French history that a former President was handed prison time with no remission, although this may be served at home with an electronic bracelet.
Sarkozy’s predecessor, Jacques Chirac, was found guilty in 2011 of misuse of public money and given a two-year suspended prison sentence for actions during his time as Paris mayor.
Meanwhile, Sarkozy’s Prime Minister, François Fillon, was sentenced in June 2020 to five years in prison, including two years on a farm, for embezzlement of public funds and concealing the abuse of company assets.
Sarkozy withdrew from active politics after failing to be chosen as his party’s presidential candidate for France’s 2017 election, won by incumbent Emmanuel Macron.
“Is Nicolas Sarkozy perfect? No. Are the women and men who make up our justice system perfect? No,” tweeted Sonia Krimi, a member of President Macron’s En Marche!
“I hope that justice will continue to be delivered more and more in the courthouse … and less and less in the public sphere.”
Sarkozy will face another trial later this month along with 13 other people on charges of illegal financing of his 2012 presidential campaign.
In 2015, the former President had tweeted his belief that severe convictions by a court should not be adjusted in length.
“I would like there to be no penalty adjustment measures for sentences of more than 6 months,” he had said.
Additional sources • AP