France: Sarkozy denies wrongdoing in campaign finance trial Socialist Nicolas Sarkozy Emmanuel Macron Republicans François Hollande
Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy appeared in court on Tuesday, denying wrongdoing and showing his anger at the charges during a trial over the allegedly illegal funding of his unsuccessful 2012 re-election bid.
Sarkozy, 66, faces allegations he spent nearly double the maximum legal amount of 22.5 million euros ($ 27.5 million) on the presidential race he lost to the Socialist Francois Hollande
Sarkozy made his first appearance on Tuesday at the trial which began last month. The Paris court is seeking to determine whether he was aware of the false invoice system that was intended to cover overspending.
“You have in front of you someone whose life has been devoted to politics for 40 years,” he told the court, describing how he participated in more than 40 rallies, in addition to interviews in the newspapers. and television shows between mid-February and May 2012..
Raised in anger, Sarkozy said he had political leadership of the campaign, but was not involved in the organizational and logistical details, stressing that as outgoing president he had to other priorities.
He specifies that he “never” gave direct instructions to the service providers in charge of organizing his gatherings, because he had a team to do so.
Sarkozy also strongly denied that his 2012 re-election bid was staged on a much larger scale than his successful 2007 campaign, the funding of which was not questioned.
“I would like someone to explain to me why my campaign was more important in 2012 than in 2007? This is not true. And if anyone knows, it’s me! he said.
The comments came in response to an investigating judge’s findings that Sarkozy and his team decided to organize “spectacular and costly rallies” in 2012. The total cost of the campaign is believed to have reached at least $ 42.8 million. euros ($ 52 million).
The investigation did not establish whether Sarkozy would have actively participated in the process or ordered fraudulent actions himself.
In addition to the former president, 12 other people and the company in charge of organizing electoral rallies face charges of forgery, breach of trust, fraud and complicity in illegal campaign financing.
Following several scandals, French law since 1990 has strictly limited political campaign spending.
The procedure began less than three months after Sarkozy’s conviction for corruption and influence peddling in another case. He appealed against this verdict.
Sarkozy retired from active politics in 2017, but still has a lot of influence behind the scenes, especially within the Republicans party ahead of next year’s presidential election. French media reported that he maintained regular contact with centrist President Emmanuel Macron whom Sarkozy would advise.
The trial is expected to last until June 22 and the verdict is expected to be delivered at a later date.