“Wiretapping” cases: Nicolas Sarkozy’s corruption appeal trial begins
Lhe Nicolas Sarkozy appeal trial for corruption and influence peddling in the “wiretapping” case opened on Monday in Paris in the presence of the former president, retried with his historical lawyer Thierry Herzog and the former magistrate Gilbert Azibert.
Dressed in a suit and black tie over a white shirt, the former head of state, 67, took his seat with his two co-defendants in the crowded courtroom of the appeals court, which will retry them in the high-profile case that it started in 2014.
In the first instance, after the electric trial in which he denounced “infamy”, the former president was sentenced on March 1, 2021 to three years in prison, including one year, becoming the first head of State of the Fifth Republic to be convicted of prison
The same sentence was handed down against his co-defendants, accompanied for Me Herzog, 67, by a ban from practicing for five years, which was suspended on appeal.
This winding file comes from wiretaps of Mr. Sarkozy and Mr. Herzog in early 2014.
At the time, two phones of the former right-wing strongman were “connected” by the judges in charge of the investigation into the suspicions of the Libyan financing of his campaign in 2007, which has now earned him a quadruple indictment.
Then the investigators discovered the existence of a third line that was put into service on January 11, 2014 under the alias “Paul Bismuth” – named after a high school acquaintance of Me Herzog – and dedicated to exchanges between the former president and his lawyer and friend.
In the course of conversations that they thought were safe from unwary ears, according to the prosecution, a corruption agreement was formed with Gilbert Azibert, general counsel at the Court of Cassation, who would use his influence against the promise an intervention for his career.
The 75-year-old senior judge, now retired, was accused of working behind the scenes to influence a decision that was of great interest to the former head of state.
At the time, the Court of Cassation was taken up by an appeal by Nicolas Sarkozy, who wanted to cancel the seizure of his presidential diaries as part of the investigation for abuse of power against L’Oréal heiress Liliane Bettencourt.
Mr. Azibert is suspected of having knowledge, upstream, of confidential information and tried to influence the advisers participating in the deliberations. In exchange, according to the prosecution, for a “boost” for a prestigious position in Monaco.
Finally, Mr. Azibert will not win the coveted position and the Court of Cassation will reject Nicolas Sarkozy’s appeal. It remains disputed whether he interfered with the Monegasque authorities.
According to the defense, this is proof that these accusations are “fantasy”.
On the contrary, the criminal court considered that the agreement of corruption arose from a “ray of serious, precise and consistent indications”. According to the law, it is not necessary that the consideration was obtained, or the influence be real to recognize corruption or influence peddling.
After his conviction, the former president said he was the victim of a “deep injustice” and the right shouted down the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF), which entrusted the investigation to two investigating judges earlier of 2014 and his impartiality was questioned by the defense during the trial.
The debates before the Court of Appeal, scheduled until December 16, promise to be less stormy but at least a gray area will remain.
By the end of February 2014, a change in the tone of exchanges between Mr. Sarkozy and his lawyer convinced investigators that they knew they were being tapped – which they dispute.
A separate investigation, opened by the PNF, did not identify a possible “mole” to inform them, but it caused its own earthquake – the “fadette” affair – on the side of which the Keeper of the Seals Eric Dupond-Moretti was submitted to the Court of Justice of the Republic.
At the end of the “wiretapping” appeal trial, the decision will be subject to deliberation for several weeks.
Another appointment awaits Nicolas Sarkozy in November and December 2023: the appeal trial of the Bygmalion case, where he was sentenced to one year in September 2021.
05/12/2022 14:22:06 – Paris (AFP) – © 2022 AFP