The criminal court in Paris rules on the case, also known as “Paul Bismuth”.
The national financial prosecutor’s office has demanded four years in prison, two of which have been closed, against the former president of the Republic and his co-defendants, lawyer Thierry Herzog and former chief justice Gilbert Azibert, all of whom are being tried for corruption and influence peddling. On top of that, you need to know more about it.
Nicolas Sarkozy is scheduled to meet the judge in March. Fifteen days before his trial in the Bigmaleon case, where he will appear on suspicion of “illegally funding” his 2012 presidential campaign, the 66-year-old former president will learn this Monday of the criminal court’s decision in the said case. “Eavesdropping. He is on trial for corruption and influence peddling. His historic lawyer Thierry Herzog, 65, and former Court of Cassation judge Gilbert Azibert, 74, are also facing charges.
The National Prosecutor’s Office of Finance (PNF) demanded four years’ imprisonment against the former president during a hearing that ended on 10 December 2020. A similar sentence was also sought against his co-defendants. In addition, for Me Herzog, a five-year professional ban. According to the attorneys general’s assessment, “in February 2014, there was a firm pact of corruption between the three of them.”
Intercepted conversations on the Bismuth line
According to the prosecution case, Nicolas Sarkozy then promised through his lawyer and friend Thierry Herzog a “helping hand” to Gilbert Azibert to work in Monaco. This was in exchange for information or even influence to call for the reversal of his presidential subpoenas on the sidelines of the Betancourt case (which ended in his dismissal in 2013). These subpoenas may be of interest to justice in other trials.
The allegations were based on conversations intercepted on an open line to Paul Wismuth by Me Herzog to exchange with the former president in complete confidentiality, as they believed. But the line was discovered by judges who were investigating another case at the time: the alleged Libyan funding of the 2007 presidential campaign.
“This affair was a godsend for me,” says Sarkozy.
In the intercept, Nicolas Sarkozy agrees to intervene in favour of Gilbert Asibert: “I, I make him stand up, I will help him,” he thus tells Thierry Herzog. Before announcing it, he soon afterwards abandoned this approach. A turning point for investigators could come from the two men discovering their unofficial phones had been tapped.
The three defendants, who face up to ten years in prison and a million euros in fines, have always challenged any corruption pacts. “This affair was a godsend for me. But if that was the price I had to pay for revealing the truth, I am prepared to accept it. I told you the truth […]. As I said, to the police. I still believe in the justice of our country,” Nicolas Sarkozy said at the end of the trial last December.
“The feeling is that you are being tracked” by the PNF.
He rejected any violation during the hearing. His exchanges with Me Herzog on the bismuth line? “Chatter,” he said during questioning in court. Stating that his lawyer then tried to “reassure” him about his appeal, he was at one time “feeling hunted down” by the state finance prosecution.
As for supporting Gilbert Asibert? “Thierry is asking me for a favour for a friend. Nothing more […]. Covenant doesn’t exist: not in his head, not in the facts. The former head of state also recalled that he was dismissed by the Court of Cassation on his summons. Gilbert Asibert “did not get a position he did not qualify for”. And in Monaco, he insisted, “everyone says that Sarkozy did not ask for anything”.
A case that is “based only on suspicions” of the defence
Gilbert Asibert also denied involvement. Explaining that he had “never sought information from his colleagues”, the person responsible for the opinion on Nicolas Sarkozy’s appeal
Nicolas Sarkozy to the Court of Cassation. “All the more so to influence anyone. In the end he explained that he had been “interested” in the Monaco post for some time, but had “given up the idea because of health problems”.
As for Thierry Herzog, he denies any wrongdoing. Also challenging the legality of the eavesdropping, the maintaining of professional secrecy between the lawyer and his client. The defendants’ defence has asked for release, condemning the case “which is based only on suspicion” and condemning the “lack of evidence”.Europe plans to organise vaccination tours to Russia