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EDITOR IN CHIEF- ABDULLAH BIN SALIM AL SHUEILI

French court upholds sentence for Ex-president Sarkozy

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Paris - A French court of appeals on Wednesday upheld a prison sentence of three years, including two suspended, against former president Nicolas Sarkozy for corruption and influence peddling.


The 68-year-old, president from 2007 to 2012, was also banned from public office for three years for seeking to obtain information about a legal investigation from a judge via a secret telephone line that was discovered through wiretapping.


In line with the initial ruling, it said two of those years were suspended and that Sarkozy would wear an electronic bracelet instead of going to jail for the remaining year.


Sarkozy's lawyer said her client had committed no wrongdoing, and described the ruling as "stupefying." "Nicolas Sarkozy is innocent of the charges (he has been convicted of)," defense lawyer Jacqueline Laffont said. "We will take this all the way. This is just the beginning."


Sarkozy had arrived in court wearing a dark grey suit and appearing nervous.


Following the verdict, he left without speaking to reporters.


Sarkozy, 68, a conservative who served one term as French president from 2007 to 2012, will challenge the appeal ruling at France's highest court, the Cour de Cassation, Laffont said.


The Cour de Cassation reviews lower court rulings on the grounds of legal or procedural errors, but not factual aspects.


A lower court in 2021 found Sarkozy guilty of trying to bribe a judge after leaving office, and of peddling influence in exchange for confidential information about an investigation into his 2007 campaign finances.


It marked a stunning fall from grace for a former president who once bestrode the world and is one of several legal battles Sarkozy has been fighting over the past decade.


Sarkozy has always vigorously denied wrongdoing.


Earlier this month, financial prosecutors in a separate case requested that Sarkozy face trial on charges of corruption and illegal financing of an election campaign related to alleged Libyan funding of his 2007 presidential bid.


The case at the center of Wednesday's appeals court ruling - - known in France as the "wiretapping affair" - is indirectly linked to the suspicion of illegal campaign financing.


In 2013, investigators looking into a Libyan connection wiretapped two of Sarkozy's phone lines and discovered a secret phone line used by the ex-president and his lawyer, ultimately leading to the corruption investigation.


The only other president during the course of France's 64-year-old Fifth Republic to be convicted by a court was Sarkozy's conservative predecessor, the late Jacques Chirac, who was found guilty of corruption in 2011.


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