Thursday, April 15

Sarkozy returns to court two weeks after conviction


The former president of France, Nicolás Sarkozy
AFP

The former French president Nicolas sarkozy will return this Wednesday to the dock, two weeks after becoming the first former Elysee tenant to be sentenced to jail time.

If in his first assault Sarkozy heard a sentence of three years in prison for corruption and influence peddling (of which only one should comply), is now in the crosshairs of justice irregular financing of his 2012 election campaign through a system of false invoices that allowed him to double the maximum expenses authorized by law. It will be his second appointment with the courts of the many fronts open to the former president, who appealed his first sentence, which keeps him free for now. The justice also analyzes in another process his accounts in the 2007 presidential campaign, allegedly financed with Libyan money, but also the attribution of some contracts from the Elysee.

The former president, who in each of these accusations defends his innocence and presents himself as victim of the persecution of some judges, is seeing how all these accusations hinder any attempt to return to the first political line, from which he left in 2016, although he did not lose his ability to influence the right. His figure will once again monopolize the spotlight in a trial in which 13 other people will also sit on the bench. In fact, Sarkozy is the defendant who faces a lesser sentence, a year in prison and a 3,750 euro fine for illegal electoral campaign financing, while the rest add charges of falsification, prevarication and fraud.

The trial, scheduled until April 15 and in which Sarkozy has assured that he will only attend when he has to testify, may be delayed after the request of one of the defenses, since one of his lawyers is with covid.

Double spending

According to the Prosecutor’s Office, Sarkozy’s campaign spent almost 43 million euros, compared to the ceiling of 22.5 million that the law authorized for a candidate who passes the first round, which allowed him to organize 44 rallies in huge rooms, with lighting and atmosphere typical of large concerts. Hollande could only do 10 big rallies. To do this, a accounting makeup system in which many of those expenses were disguised with bills charged to the conservative UMP party, currently Los Republicanos, instead of the candidate’s campaign.

A system unveiled in 2014 by Jérôme Lavrilleux, the number 2 of his campaign, who on the verge of tears confessed the double accounting set up through the event organization company Bygmalion, which gives its name to the case. The former president always assures that I was unaware of this system of parallel expenses and also that he was aware that spending ceilings were being exceeded.

Was Sarkozy aware?

Against him there are several testimonies, the last one from his campaign director, Guillaume Lambert, who last week told France 2 public television that on two occasions he read to his boss reports from accounting experts who warned of the high spending train . Sarkozy asked for more and more acts to turn around the polls that placed him below Hollande and that, in the end, ended up making him the second president of the Fifth Republic to not revalidate his mandate.

As few doubt the double accounting system, after Lavrilleux revealed it on television, the trial will try to show if Sarkozy was aware of it and if his permanent demand contributed to its launch. The trial will also reopen wounds within the right wing, since ‘sarkozism’ has always blamed this case on the then general secretary of the UMP Jean-François Copé, representative of the most ‘chiraquian’ sector of the party and against whom the investigators They did not find sufficient evidence to take him to court.

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