Nicolas Sarkozy is set to face trial on charges of corruption and influence peddling after his last appeal was rejected by France’s highest court, his lawyer said Wednesday.
Sarkozy will likely have to appear in court in the coming months, sources close to the case told AFP on June 19, a day after the country’s Court of Cassation – which rules on questions of law – ruled that a trial was justified for Sarkozy as well as his lawyer Thierry Herzog and a former judge, Gilbert Azibert.
The influence-peddling case centres on conversations between Herzog and Azibert that were tapped by investigators looking into claims that Sarkozy accepted illicit payments from the L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt for his 2007 presidential campaign.
They suspect Sarkozy and his lawyer were seeking information on developments in the case, with Sarkozy offering Azibert a plum job in Monaco in exchange.
The inquiry also revealed that Sarkozy and Herzog often communicated via cellphones obtained under false identities – with Sarkozy using the name Paul Bismuth.
He was cleared over the Bettencourt allegations in 2013, and has argued that Azibert never got the Monaco job, meaning he should not have to face trial.
But investigators believe the deal fell through because Sarkozy and his lawyer learned their phones were being tapped.
FRANCE 24’s Political Editor Marc Perelman said the latest events hadpushed the former French leader “the closest he’s ever been to [facing] trial”.
Perelman said that if Sarkozy is convicted on all charges, he risks a “prison sentence of up to 10 years. So this is a very, very serious case.”
In 2014, Sarkozy became the first former French president to be taken into police custody during a preliminary stage of the inquiry.
Sarkozy is not the first ex-president to be prosecuted – his predecessor Jacques Chirac was given a two-year suspended sentence in 2011 for embezzlement and misuse of public funds during his time as mayor of Paris. But if the charges against Sarkozy go ahead, it would be the first time a former French president stands trial for actions taken during his presidency.
Sarkozy has been dogged by legal investigations since failing in his 2012 re-election bid.
Last month a top court rejected an appeal to avoid another trial, involving charges of illicit financing for the 2012 campaign.
Prosecutors claim Sarkozy spent nearly €43 million ($48 million) on his lavish re-election bid – almost double the legal limit of 22.5 million euros – using fake invoices.
Sarkozy has denounced the charges, saying he was unaware of the fraud by executives at the public relations firm Bygmalion, who are also among a total of 13 people likely to face trial.
Republican stumbles as he tries to defend Trump’s claim that Iran can be trusted to fight ISIS
During an appearance on Fox News this Wednesday, Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) hit a snag while trying to justify President Trump's earlier contention that Russia and Iran would step in to fill the void left by the US after its withdrawal from northeast Syria, saying that "Russia, Iran, Syria and to maybe slightly lesser extent Turkey, they all hate ISIS as much as we do," during a Wednesday press conference alongside Italian President Sergio Mattarella.
Speaking to Biggs, Fox News host Harris Faulkner pointed out that Trump's willingness to partly cede Syria's future to Iran contradicts his and other conservatives' rhetoric towards the Islamic Republic.
Alan Dershowitz boots rival lawyer from sex abuse case
Alan Dershowitz continues to deny accusations that he had sex with an underage woman on Jeffrey Epstein's private island. Flight logs show Dershowitz regularly flew on Epstein's private plane, dubbed the Lolita Express.
Dershowitz' explanation for why the allegations continue to dog him despite his firm denies is that a lawyer for the woman accusing Dershowitz—Virginia Giuffre—is out to get him.
On Wednesday, a judge agreed to take David Boies, the high-profile lawyer, off the case, reports the Daily Beast.
Here are the six most absurd things Trump just said in his unhinged Wednesday press conference
President Donald Trump unloaded a whole lot of crazy during a joint press conference with Italian President Sergio Mattarella.
Trump attacked America's allies in the Middle East, his own political allies on Capitol Hill and repeated talking points used by Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Erdo?an.
Here are six of the most absurd things from the press conference.
Trump proved he has no idea what's happening
During the press conference, Trump claimed his decision to abandon Kurdish allies in Syria was "strategically brilliant."