Clare Daly: Nicolas Sarkozy sentence ‘not much more’ than what people have endured during lockdown

Ex-French President Sarkozy - who was nicknamed the “Gallic Thatcher” - was found guilty of corruption on Monday and sentenced to three years in prison.
Nicolas Sarkozy

By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

03 Mar 2021

A Paris court found that the 66-year-old had tried to bribe a judge after leaving office, and to peddle influence in exchange for confidential information about an investigation into his 2007 campaign finances.

Sarkozy, who served as President from 2007 to 2012, is the second head of state in modern-day France to be convicted of corruption. His conservative predecessor, the late Jacques Chirac, was found guilty of corruption in 2011.

Sarkozy, who plans to appeal the conviction, will not spend any time in prison. Two years of his sentence were suspended, and he is likely to be tagged with an electronic bracelet for the remaining year.

Asked for her reaction to the sentence, Irish member Clare Daly told The Parliament Magazine, “Given that Sarkozy has been subject to multiple investigations since he left the French presidency, the verdict wasn't entirely surprising, though it's obviously welcome to see justice being done.”

“That said, his sentence -  a year at home with an electronic tag, with the other two years suspended - for the very serious charges of corruption and influence peddling, means he will likely never spend a day in prison, and that amounts to not much more than being sentenced to the same kind of year everyone else has just had under lockdown.”

“The Sarkozy trial and conviction now moves to appeal. But if this sends shock waves around Europe that money power should not have the influence it does over political power then the tough decision by the French court is to be welcomed” Denis MacShane, former UK Europe Minister

She added, “While in general I'm not in favour of custodial sentences, in this case it does seem that there's one rule for the rich and influential, and another for everyone else – you can be guaranteed that someone from the Parisian banlieues wouldn't be treated so gently by a French justice system which has seen the number of people imprisoned for short sentences balloon over the recent past, with 41 percent of people in incarcerated in French prisons serving sentences of less than a year.”

Further reaction to the sentence came from former UK Europe Minister Denis MacShane, who told this site, “All over Europe, especially in the UK, the big money-political power nexus is unhealthy and destroys public confidence in the honesty of democratic politics.”

The former Labour cabinet minister added, “The Sarkozy trial and conviction now moves to appeal. But if this sends shock waves around Europe that money power should not have the influence it does over political power then the tough decision by the French court is to be welcomed.”

Sarkozy and his centre-right party Les Republicains have long said the investigations against him are politically motivated.

“He [Sarkozy] will likely never spend a day in prison, and that amounts to not much more than being sentenced to the same kind of year everyone else has just had under lockdown” Clare Daly, GUE/NGL

He is involved in several legal investigations but has always insisted he has committed no wrongdoing. He told French press he was “indignant but determined.”

He said, “I’ve received many messages of support from people in France and abroad who say they are appalled by what is happening.”

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