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France’s Sarkozy found guilty of illegally financing 2012 election bid

file photo: the bygmalion affair: nicolas sarkozy and 13 other defendants on trial in paris
File photo: Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol/File Photo

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy was found guilty of illegal campaign financing over his failed 2012 re-election bid by a Paris court on Thursday.

It was the second guilty verdict this year for Sarkozy, who led France from 2007 to 2012 and retains influence among conservatives despite falling from grace over his legal woes.

The court was yet to say what sentence he would receive.

Prosecutors were seeking a one-year prison sentence, half of it suspended, for the 66-year old former president. He is in any case unlikely to go to jail immediately as he would be expected to appeal the sentence.

His conservative party, the prosecutors said, spent nearly double the 22.5 million euros (currently $19.2 million) allowed under electoral law on extravagant campaign rallies and then hired a friendly public relations agency to hide the cost.

Sarkozy has denied wrongdoing. He told the court in June that he had not been involved in the logistics of his campaign for a second term as president nor in how money was spent during the election run-up.

But the court said that Sarkozy was made aware of the overspending, that he did not act on it, and that it was not necessary for him to approve each individual spending to be responsible.

Sarkozy was found guilty in a separate trial in March of trying to bribe a judge and peddle influence in order to obtain confidential information on a judicial inquiry. He also denied any wrongdoing in that case.

The former president was sentenced to three years in jail in that trial – two of which were suspended – but has not actually spent time in prison yet, while his appeal is pending.

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