France’s Sarkozy Found Guilty Again Over Campaign Funds

PARIS — A Paris appeals court ruled Wednesday that former President Nicolas Sarkozy was guilty of illegal campaign financing over his failed 2012 reelection bid, confirming a previous ruling by a lower court, but his lawyer said he would take his case to France’s highest court.  

Sarkozy was handed a one-year prison sentence, half of which was suspended, that can be served through alternative means, such as wearing an electronic bracelet without going to jail.  

Sarkozy, 69, had been handed a one-year prison sentence in 2021 when first found guilty, although that was suspended while he launched his appeal. The new appeal will again mean the sentence is placed on hold. 

“Today’s ruling is highly questionable. That is why we will appeal to the Cour de Cassation,” his lawyer Vincent Desry told reporters, reiterating that Sarkozy was innocent.  

The Cour de Cassation is the country’s highest court, and its rulings typically focus on whether the law has been applied correctly rather than on the facts of the case. Appeals to the court can take years.  

Sarkozy was in court on Wednesday to hear the verdict but left without commenting to waiting reporters. 

President from 2007 to 2012, Sarkozy has remained an influential figure among conservatives and is on friendly terms with President Emmanuel Macron — despite a string of trials and investigations linked to various legal issues surrounding his campaign finances.  

He has always denied accusations that his party, Les Republicains, then known as the UMP, worked with a public relations firm named Bygmalion to hide the true cost of his campaign — marked by lavish show events previously unseen in French politics.  

During a hearing, Sarkozy put the blame on some members of his campaign team: “I didn’t choose any supplier; I didn’t sign any quotation, any invoice,” he told the court. 

France sets strict limits on campaign spending. Prosecutors allege that the firm invoiced UMP rather than the campaign. They say Sarkozy spent $45.9 million on his 2012 campaign, almost double the permitted amount.

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