A Paris court has found Nicolas Sarkozy, France’s former president, guilty of corruption and influence peddling, sentencing him to one year in prison and a two-year suspended sentence.
He is the second former president in modern France, after Jacques Chirac, to be convicted of corruption.
The 66-year-old politician, who served as president from 2007 to 2012, was convicted on Monday for having tried to illegally obtain information from a senior magistrate in 2014 about a legal action in which he was involved.
Sarkozy will appeal against the ruling, his lawyer told BFM television.
Prosecutors told the judges that Sarkozy had offered to secure a job in Monaco for judge Gilbert Azibert, in return for confidential information about an inquiry into allegations that he had accepted illegal payments from L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt for his 2007 presidential campaign.
This came to light while they were wiretapping conversations between Sarkozy and his lawyer Thierry Herzog after the right-wing leader left office. The wiretapping was carried out in relation to another investigation into alleged Libyan financing of the same campaign.
The court said Sarkozy, a former lawyer himself, was “perfectly informed” about committing such illegal action. His two co-defendants were also found guilty and handed the same sentence.
Reputation ‘in tatters’
Sarkozy had denied any wrongdoing, saying he was the victim of a witch-hunt by financial prosecutors who used excessive means to snoop on his affairs. He has 10 days launch an appeal.
Taking into account the two years suspended, the one-year prison term means it is unlikely Sarkozy will physically go to prison, a punishment that in France usually applies to jail terms of above two years.
The court said Sarkozy will be entitled to request to be detained at home with an electronic bracelet.
Sarkozy will face another trial later this month along with 13 other people on charges of illegal financing of his 2012 presidential campaign.
Al Jazeera’s Natacha Butler, reporting from Paris, said the ruling could spell the end of his national political career. Butler said Sarkozy’s reputation was now “in tatters”, adding the court’s decision was a “devastating blow” to any political ambitions he may still harbour.
“It is hard to imagine that a former president with a jail sentence to contend with could possibly take the centre stage once again politically,” she said.