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Former French President Sarkozy Sentenced to a Year in Prison

He was found guilty of illegally funding his reelection campaign

The former president of France Nicolas Sarkozy was found guilty of violating campaign finance regulation in his 2012 reelection bid.

During his campaign, Sarkozy illegally spent tens of millions of euros over the limit set by French law, a Paris court ruled.

“Prosecutors said the former president’s UMP party splurged nearly double the €22.5m (£19.4m) cap on lavish campaign rallies and events, then tried to hide the costs by hiring a PR firm called Bygmalion to invoice the party, not the campaign,” says the BBC.

Sarkozy told the court in June that he was unaware of the logistics and details of his campaign, including how money was spent during the election. 

On Thursday, the court said while the former president may not have known the exact details, he would have been aware of the overspending and did not attempt to stop it. 

Though sentenced to one year in prison, the 66-year-old will not actually go to jail. The court will allow him to remain at home with an ankle monitor.

According to NBC News, “it is the first time in France’s modern history that a former president has been convicted and sentenced to a prison term for actions during his term. Sarkozy’s predecessor, Jacques Chirac, was found guilty in 2011 of misuse of public money during his time as Paris mayor and was given a two-year suspended prison sentence.”

Since losing reelection to socialist François Hollande, Sarkozy has faced a plethora of legal problems. He was previously given a one-year prison sentence for corruption and influence-peddling. He was also dealt a suspended prison sentence after trying to bribe a judge.

In 2007, he won 53% of the votes in France and subsequently served a five-year term. 

His charisma and eloquence ensured him an initial popularity that declined as he faced criticism over his handling of the global financial crisis and the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings,” reports DW. “He briefly returned to politics in 2014, before being defeated in the presidential primary race to represent his party, now called the Republicans, in 2016.”

Thierry Herzog, Sarkozy’s lawyer, noted that the sentence corresponds to the maximum his client faced. Sarkozy is expected to appeal, which, if successful, would effectively suspend his sentence.

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