Just In: Former French President, Sarkozy sentenced to jail for illegal campaign financing

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Thursday, was sentenced to one year in prison for illegal campaign financing in his failed 2012 re-election bid.

This makes him the first French head of state in modern times to receive two jail terms.

The judge said Sarkozy could serve the sentence by wearing an electronic bracelet at home, CNN reports.

“Nicolas Sarkozy knew the spending limit, he knew he shouldn’t exceed it,” the judge said.

Speaking outside of the courtroom on Thursday, Sarkozy’s lawyer Thierry Herzog told French media that he would be launching an appeal.

This is the second criminal case involving Sarkozy. In March he was handed a three-year prison sentence, two of which were suspended, for corruption and influence peddling. The 66-year-old has appealed the March conviction.

The criminal investigation dubbed the “Bygmalion case”, which first started in March 2014, discovered that Sarkozy’s campaign spent more than $54 million during the campaign by using fake invoices, way above the limit of $24 million set by French electoral laws.

Sarkozy fought a lengthy legal battle trying to prevent the trial from happening but his appeal was rejected in late 2018 and the trial opened on May 20, 2021, after having been delayed for two months due to a key defendant’s lawyer being hospitalized for Covid-19.

The legal ceiling for campaign funds was a well-known fact within Sarkozy’s campaign team. On March 7, 2012, they received their first memo from their accountants warning them of the quickly expanding campaign cost, urging them to “correct the trajectory,” said Guillaume Lambert, Sarkozy’s 2012 campaign manager, in an interview with France 2 television earlier this year.

Lambert said he told Sarkozy about the memo and indicated to him the necessity to cut campaign spending, while Sarkozy maintained that he had no knowledge of the overspending.

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