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'I'm Not a Rotten Person': Sarkozy Fights to Avoid Jail

Newser — Newser Editors

Nicolas Sarkozy led France as president from 2007 to 2012. Now, however, his post-presidential life is consumed with fighting corruption charges and avoiding prison. The 65-year-old went on trial Monday, earning the unwanted distinction of becoming the first former French president in modern times who must appear in court, reports the BBC.

(A predecessor, that late Jacques Chirac, was convicted of corruption in 2011, though he didn't have to go to court because of ill health.) In Sarkozy's case, he is accused of promising a judge a cushy promotion in exchange for information about an investigation into alleged illegal campaign financing in the 2007 election, per Reuters.

Sarkozy, attorney Theirry Herzog, and retired judge Gilbert Azibert face 10 years in prison and fines of $1.2 million if convicted, notes the AP.

“I don't want things that I didn't do to be held against me," Sarkozy told news broadcaster BFM earlier this month. "The French need to know ...

that I'm not a rotten person." The former president maintains that the allegations against him are politically motivated. The current charges, based on wiretaps on his phone, stem from allegations that Sarkozy illegally accepted millions from L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt for his 2007 campaign. However, they are not the only ones he faces. Sarkozy is due in court in another case in March related to allegations that he hid the true cost of his unsuccessful 2012 run for president. And authorities continue to investigate claims that former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi illegally funneled millions of dollars into Sarkozy's 2007 campaign.

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