Former French President Sarkozy convicted for illegal campaign funding

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy has been convicted of illegally funding his 2012 re-election campaign, his second guilty verdict in a year.

The former French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, has been convicted of breaking the law in his 2012 re-election campaign.

He received a one-year sentence, with half of it suspended, which could be served by wearing an electronic tag instead of going to jail.

Sarkozy faced charges of spending too much on his campaign, and then using a PR firm to conceal it. He has always rejected all accusations.

The case is known as the Bygmalion affair, after the name of the firm.

A Paris court of appeal upheld a lower court’s earlier guilty verdict on Wednesday. The lower court had initially given him a one-year prison sentence.

His lawyer said he will challenge the new sentence at France’s highest court. This means it will be suspended, and Sarkozy will not be sent to prison immediately.

If the sentence is confirmed, he will probably have to wear an electronic bracelet, do community service, or pay a fine.

Prosecutors said Sarkozy’s UMP party spent almost twice the €22.5m (£19.4m) limit on his campaign, wasting money on extravagant campaign rallies and events.

To cover up the costs, it then asked Bygmalion to bill the party, instead of the campaign.

While prosecutors concede they cannot show Sarkozy planned or participated in the scheme, they say he must have known about it.

Several other people involved in the Bygmalion case, such as Sarkozy’s deputy campaign manager Jérôme Lavrilleux, also received suspended sentences.

Nicolas Sarkozy was president for one five-year term, until 2012. He implemented strict anti-immigration policies and tried to reform France’s economy during a presidency affected by the global financial crisis.

He has faced several criminal investigations since losing his re-election bid to socialist François Hollande in 2012.

In 2023, he was given a suspended prison sentence for attempting to bribe a judge in 2014. He was sentenced to three years in prison – with two suspended – but appealed against the verdict.

The 68-year-old was the first former French president to get a custodial sentence.

He will be tried next year over claims he received illegal funds for his 2007 presidential campaign from the late Libyan dictator, Muammar Gaddafi.

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