FRANCK FIFE / AFP
Wiretapping case: decision on appeal this May 17 for Nicolas Sarkozy (Photo by Nicolas Sarkozy taken on February 4, 2023)
JUSTICE – Will Nicolas Sarkozy be sentenced again for corruption? The Paris Court of Appeal rules on Wednesday in the so-called “listen” on the fate of the former head of state, his lawyer and friend Thierry Herzog and the former high magistrate Gilbert Azibert.
In an unprecedented judgment for a former president of the Fifth Republic, Nicolas Sarkozy was sentenced at first instance, on March 1, 2021, to three years’ imprisonment, including one year, for corruption and influence peddling.
The one who never ceased to proclaim his innocence immediately appealed.
“Defend his scorned honor”
On the first day of this new trial, December 5, 2022, he claimed to have come “defending his scorned honor” and assured not to have “never corrupt anyone”. At the end of the debates, the public prosecutor’s office castigated a “a matter of unprecedented seriousness during the Fifth Republic”but did not ask for a prison sentence against the former tenant of the Élysée, 68 years old today.
Three years in prison fully suspended were required against the former head of state and his two co-defendants.
The public prosecutor also demanded a five-year ban on civil rights for Nicolas Sarkozy and Gilbert Azibert, 76, as well as a ban on practicing the profession of lawyer during the same period for Me Herzog, 67.
This decision is expected while the former strongman of the right is under threat of another resounding trial: the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF) on Thursday requested his referral to correctional in the case of suspicions of Libyan financing of his 2007 presidential campaign.
Telephone conversations at the heart of the prosecution case
This legal file, which also implicates three former ministers of Nicolas Sarkozy, is indirectly at the origin of the affair of the “listen”also called “Bismuth”. At the end of 2013, the investigating judges in charge of the investigation into suspicions of Libyan corruption decided to ” connect “ the two lines of Nicolas Sarkozy. They then discover the existence of a third, unofficial line.
Purchased on January 11, 2014 under the identity of “Paul Bismuth”, it is dedicated to exchanges between the former president and his lawyer and long-time friend, Thierry Herzog. Their telephone conversations, broadcast for the first time during the second trial in December, constitute the heart of the case and the basis of the accusation.
For the public prosecutor, a pact of corruption takes shape in these wiretaps with Gilbert Azibert, then general counsel at the Court of Cassation, accused of having worked behind the scenes to weigh in on an appeal brought by Nicolas Sarkozy in the Bettencourt affair, in exchange for a “boost” for an honorary position in Monaco.
On February 7, the Paris Court of Appeal rejected the two priority questions of constitutionality (QPC) raised by the defense of Sarkozy and Herzog to challenge the legality of the prosecution.
These QPCs concerned in particular a parallel investigation strongly contested by the defense, carried out by the PNF. Opened in 2014, it aimed to find a ” mole ” who would have informed Nicolas Sarkozy and Thierry Herzog that their line “Bismuth” was bugged.
In this context, the financial prosecutor’s office had examined the detailed invoices (“fadettes”) of nine lawyers and geolocated three of them, over a period of a few hours. The investigation was closed without further action at the end of 2019 and transmitted to the defense in 2020.
This case in the case, called des “fadettes”, resulted in the dismissal before the Court of Justice of the Republic (CJR) of the current Keeper of the Seals Éric Dupond-Moretti, for having launched administrative investigations targeting three financial magistrates. The minister lodged an appeal in cassation against this dismissal.
At the beginning of April, another formation of the Paris Court of Appeal, seized by the bar of the capital, confirmed that the State had not committed ” heavy mistake “ in this file.
Under strong judicial pressure, Nicolas Sarkozy will be retried on appeal in the fall in the case “Bygmalion”which relates to the costs of his 2012 presidential campaign. He had been sentenced to one year in prison in September 2021.
See also on The HuffPost: