Sarkozy to sue France over corruption verdict

Nicolas Sarkozy is protesting his innocence, saying he's the victim of a deep injustice. Photo:...
Nicolas Sarkozy is protesting his innocence, saying he's the victim of a deep injustice. Photo: Getty Images
Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy says he's ready to go all the way to the European Court of Human Rights to prove his innocence, his first public reaction after being found guilty of corruption and sentenced to prison.

The court on Monday found that Sarkozy had tried to bribe a judge and peddle his influence after leaving office in exchange for inside information about an investigation into his 2007 campaign finances. He is appealing the ruling.

The 66-year-old on Tuesday protested his innocence, saying he was the victim of a deep injustice, the ruling was riddled with inconsistencies and the political impartiality of some investigating judges was open to question.

"I appealed the decision, maybe I will have to pursue this fight all the way to the European Court of Human Rights," Sarkozy told Le Figaro newspaper.

"That would be painful for me to have to get my own country condemned, but I'm ready to do so because that would be the price of democracy."

Sarkozy, a conservative who led France from 2007 to 2012, was sentenced to three years in prison. However, two years were suspended and the presiding judge said she was open to him staying out of jail if tagged with an electronic bracelet for the remaining year. That decision lies with another judge.

He said he spent the evening after his conviction watching the US drama series The Killing with his family.

Senior politicians from the opposition centre-right have rallied to Sarkozy's defence. Some allies previously hoped he might be drawn out of retirement to run in the 2022 presidential vote.

"Acquitted or not, it would change nothing politically," Sarkozy said. "I had said I wouldn't be a candidate and I stand by that."

Sarkozy stands trial in another case related to illegal campaign financing later this month.

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