Former French president Nicholas Sarkozy sentenced to jail for corruption


French ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy has been sentenced to three years in prison, two of them suspended, for corruption.


Sarkozy, who was president from 2007-2012, was found guilty of trying to illegally obtain information from a senior magistrate in 2014 about an ongoing investigation into his campaign finances.


Sarkozy, 66, is the first former French president to get a custodial sentence.


The judge said Sarkozy did not need to serve time in jail. He could serve the sentence by wearing an electronic bracelet at home. His lawyer says he will appeal but the process could take years.


After a lengthy investigation and legal complications, the trial began at the end of last year.


Dubbed the "wiretapping case," it began in 2013 when investigators bugged phones belonging to Sarkozy and his lawyer Herzog, in the context of an inquiry against Sarkozy.


They discovered that the two men promised senior magistrate Gilbert Azibert a prestigious position in Monaco, in exchange for information about an ongoing inquiry into claims that Sarkozy had accepted illegal payments from L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt for his successful 2007 presidential campaign.


The prosecution convinced the court that Sarkozy and Herzog had sought to bribe Azibert with a prestigious job in Monaco in return for information about that investigation.


French media reported that Sarkozy was heard telling Herzog: "I'll get him promoted, I'll help him."


The phone line police tapped was a secret number set up in a fictional name, Paul Bismuth, through which Sarkozy communicated with his lawyer.


On Monday Herzog and Azibert were also sentenced to three years in jail, two of them suspended.


Sarkozy had begun eyeing a political comeback for France's 2022 presidential election with many from his party, Les Republicains, in support of his return.


Senator Pierre Charon had said it would be a "dream" to have the ex-president run again, and that he hoped Sarkozy would once more play an "important role."


Sarkozy briefly left the political scene after his failed bid for re-election in 2012, and after his failure to win the conservative primaries in 2016.


Sarkozy faces other accusations. In just over two weeks' time he will once again be on trial accused of violating campaign financing rules during his failed 2012 re-election bid, by working with a friendly public relations firm to hide the true cost of his campaign.


Prosecutors are also investigating claims that Sarkozy received funding for his 2007 campaign from Libya's then-leader Muammar Gaddafi.

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