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French prosecutors seek 6-month jail term for ex-president Sarkozy over illegal campaign funding

Iran Press TV

Thursday, 17 June 2021 6:05 PM

Prosecutors in France have requested a six-month jail term for former president Nicolas Sarkozy over allegations of illicit financing for his failed 2012 re-election bid.

Sarkozy's conservative party is accused of spending around twice the authorized 22.5 million euros ($27 million), under electoral law, on lavish campaign rallies in a failed attempt to hold off Socialist rival Francois Hollande.

At the end of proceedings in Paris Thursday, prosecutors issued withering criticism of 66-year-old Sarkozy and requested a one-year jail term, with six months of it suspended, and a fine of 3,750 euros ($4,500).

"Nicolas Sarkozy clearly regrets nothing because he came to just one hearing," prosecutor Vanessa Perree told the court.

"This way of thinking of himself as being above the law, of not being a citizen among others, is the same as it was during the presidential campaign," she added.

Her comments came two days after the former president, in his second trial, denied wrongdoing at his trial, stressing that his party's expenses were not his responsibility.

"I spent 40 years in politics, it's my life, I know how campaigns work," Sarkozy told the court on Tuesday, insisting, "Things did not get out of hand."

The former president added that he had been too busy running the country to pay attention to "an accounting detail."

However, Perree stressed on Thursday that it was a "farce to try to make us believe that these people do not watch over things. It's a farce to see them try to hide behind their incompetence."

Back on March 1, the right-wing politician became the European country's first postwar president to be sentenced to prison when he received a three-year term, two years of which were suspended, for alleged corruption and influence peddling.

Sarkozy did not appear in the opening of his first trial in Paris, but 13 other individuals accused of being his accomplices were all in attendance, including the deputy manager of his 2012 campaign, Jerome Lavrilleux.

However, judges later adjourned hearings until May 20 at Lavrilleux's request because his attorney had been hospitalized with COVID-19. The trial of Sarkozy, who was president from 2007 to 2012, resumed on May 20.

In their indictment against Sarkozy, the prosecutors admitted that they could not prove the former president either organized or was involved in the purported scheme. However, they stressed that he must have been aware of it.

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