Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy has been ordered to stand trial on charges of corruption and influence peddling involving a judge from whom he sought information about an investigation, a legal source told News agents on Thursday. Sarkozy’s lawyer Thierry Herzog and former judge Gilbert Azibert must also stand trial in the case dating back to 2014, the source said, confirming a report in French daily Le Monde.
According to prosecutors, Sarkozy’s lawyer tried to get information from Azibert over the status of a campaign financing investigation. In that inquiry, Sarkozy was suspected of accepting illicit payments from the L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt for his 2007 presidential campaign. He was cleared in 2013 of taking advantage of the elderly woman, but wiretaps on Sarkozy’s phone suggested he had discussed with Herzog giving Azibert, a magistrate from a top appeals court, a job in Monaco in exchange for information on the Bettencourt case.
Sarkozy has argued that the job never materialized, meaning he is not guilty of anything, but investigators believe the deal fell through because the former president and his lawyer learned their phones were being tapped. Herzog and Azibert are also facing charges of violation of confidentiality.
The decision is the latest legal problem for Sarkozy, whose attempt to mount a comeback for the presidency failed in November 2016, when he could not secure the backing of his own party during primaries. Last week the former president, who already faces a trial for illegal campaign financing in his 2012 re-election campaign, was charged with accepting millions of euros in funding from late Libyan dictator Moamer Kadhafi.