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Prosecutors seek 6-month prison term for French ex-president Sarkozy

·3-min read

Prosecutors in the trial of former French president Nicolas Sarkozy have called for a six-month jail term over campaign finance violations in his failed 2012 bid for reelection.

At the end of proceedings in Paris on Thursday, prosecutors demanded a one-year jail term, with six months of it suspended, and a fine of 3,750 euros.

"Nicolas Sarkozy clearly regrets nothing because he came to just one hearing," prosecutor Vanessa Perree told the court.

"This way of thinking of himself as being above the law, of not being a citizen among others, is the same as it was during the presidential campaign," she added.

This is the second trial of the 66-year-old right-winger who has faced a flurry of investigations into his affairs since he lost his presidential immunity after his single term in office from 2007-2012.

'An accounting detail'

In March, he became France's first post-war president to be given a custodial sentence when judges handed him a three-year term, two years of which were suspended, for corruption and influence peddling over attempts to secure favours from a judge.

Sarkozy has appealed against that conviction. The sentence is not expected to see him serve actual jail time with the remaining non-suspended year set to be served at home with an electronic bracelet

The court has heard how Sarkozy's 2012 re-election campaign team spent around twice the authorised amount of 22.5 million euro in a bid to hold off Socialist rival Francois Hollande.

Appearing on Tuesday, Sarkozy said that he had been too busy running the country to pay attention to "an accounting detail" and denied allegations that he was responsible for the runaway spending.

"I spent 40 years in politics, it's my life, I know how campaigns work," he told the court, insisting "things did not get out of hand".

Prosecutor Perree said it was a "farce to try to make us believe that these people do not watch over things. It's a farce to see them try to hide behind their incompetence."

Popular figure despite it all

Sarkozy and 13 others are accused of setting up or benefiting from a fake billing scheme which enabled the concealment of excess spending which funded lavish US-style election rallies.

Prosecutors demanded a three-year suspended jail term and a fine of 50,000 euros for Sarkozy's deputy campaign manager, Jerome Lavrilleux, who has admitted to fraud.

They sought suspended terms of 18 months for three executives from Bygmalion, a public relations firm, who have admitted to accepting the fake billing system.

Sarkozy remains a popular figure on the right, attracting long lines of fans last summer seeking autographs as he launched his latest memoir "The Time of Storms" which topped best-seller lists for weeks.

In a separate case the former president is facing charges that he received millions of euros from former Libyan dictator Moamer Kadhafi to finance his election campaign in 2007.

(with AFP)

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