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Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy guilty of illegal campaign financing, receives 1-year sentence

On Thursday, former French President Nicolas Sarkozy was sentenced to one year in prison due to illegal campaign financing in his failed 2012 re-election campaign. This marks the first time that a former French head of state received two jail terms. However, Sarkozy is unlikely to spend this time behind bars and will rather serve house arrest. All 13 co-defendants have also been found guilty. Sarkozy’s lawyer told French media that he would be launching an appeal to counter the sentence. This is the second criminal case involving Sarkozy, and in March he was delivered a three-year prison sentence, two of which have been suspended.

Sarkozy’s previous charges pertained to corruption and influence peddling after an investigation discovered that his campaign spent more than $54 million through using fake invoices. This is several million dollars above the $24 million limit set by French electoral laws. Sarkozy fought to prevent the trial from taking place, but his appeal was rejected in 2018 and the trial began in 2021. The legal ceiling for campaign funds was acknowledged and a well-known fact among the campaign team, however, they chose to ignore it. Sarkozy maintains that he had no idea about excessive campaign spending. French prosecutors are currently investigating claims that Libya’s former leader, Moammar Gadhafi, provided Sarkozy’s 2007 campaign with millions of euros shipping to Paris packed in suitcases.

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