Nicolas Sarkozy's trial in the "Paul Bismuth" affair opens - The Canadian
Sunday, December 6

Nicolas Sarkozy’s trial in the “Paul Bismuth” affair opens

Nicolas Sarkozy is on trial for corruption and influence peddling in the so-called wiretapping affair. – JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER / AFP

  • The trial of Nicolas Sarkozy, Thierry Herzog and Gilbert Azibert is due to start this Monday and last until December 10.
  • Tried for “corruption” and “influence peddling”, the former head of state faces a ten-year prison sentence and a fine of one million euros.
  • However, the trial is suspended due to the health of Gilbert Azibert, who could request a dismissal due to the coronavirus epidemic and the risks it poses.

On March 4, 2014, while he was being searched, Thierry Herzog first told the judges that he only had one cell phone. But when the investigators dialed the number of “Paul Bismuth” and that the device began to ring in his pocket, Nicolas Sarkozy’s lawyer was indeed forced to change his mind. It is for this so-called “eavesdropping” case that the former President of the Republic must be tried, from Monday, before the 32nd chamber of the Paris judicial tribunal, alongside his former lawyer, therefore, and the magistrate. Gilbert Azibert.

In 2011, Jacques Chirac had indeed been tried – and convicted – in the so-called “fictitious jobs of the RPR” case. But due to his state of health, he had never set foot in the courtroom. This is the first time that a former head of state will appear physically before a court to answer for crimes:
« corruption » and “influence peddling”. The charges against him are punishable by a maximum penalty of ten years in prison and a fine of 1 million euros.

A job in Monaco in exchange for information about Bettencourt?

To fully understand this case, we have to go back to 2013. At a time when the judges are starting to wonder if Nicolas Sarkozy did not benefit from the money of the Libyan leader Gaddafi to finance his 2007 presidential campaign. They decide therefore to place it on tapping. They then discover that he has another secret line, open under the name of “Paul Bismuth”, which he uses to communicate with his lawyer, Thierry Herzog. A “war phone”, one would say in a detective series. Except that the name of “Paul Bismuth” does not refer to a general or a city boss but to a former high school friend of the lawyer, who became famous without his knowledge.

The judges are listening. And, according to their order, the conversations they listen to reveal the existence of a corruption pact. Between, on the one hand, Nicolas Sarkozy who wishes to have secret information on the Bettencourt procedure in which he is implicated and, on the other, Gilbert Azibert, magistrate at the Court of Cassation who is looking for “a helping hand” to get a job in Monaco in exchange for the information he has on the Bettencourt affair, precisely. Or how things get mixed up and trouble
“Fly in a squadron” to use the expression of Nicolas Sarkozy’s predecessor.

“For these gentlemen who are listening to us …”

From the start, Nicolas Sarkozy has denied the facts. He takes as proof the fact that he never gave the hoped-for “boost”, that Gilbert Azibert did not finally get the post he coveted in Monaco and that he even benefited from a dismissal in the Bettencourt case. He also ensures, like Thierry Herzog, that he only opened the secret line “Bismuth” to avoid “wild tapping” of “private pharmacies”. But that does not stand up to the analysis of flowery conversations, which are likely to animate the upcoming trial.

On this line that he believes is protected, the former president agrees with his lawyer on what they should say on the other line that they know, she, listened to: “For these gentlemen who are listening to us … ”,“ The judges listening to us… ”At the turn of a conversation, we also hear Thierry Herzog calling the Bordeaux magistrates in charge of the Bettencourt investigation“ bastards ”. Not to mention the allusions to various journalists… So many reasons which led the national financial prosecutor’s office to compare the methods of the former head of state to those of a “seasoned delinquent”.

“I am not a rotten”

Scheduled until December 10, the trial is however suspended on the state of health of Gilbert Azibert who, due to the coronavirus epidemic, requested a referral for medical reasons. If he stands, Nicolas Sarkozy has already announced that he would be “combative” and answer all questions. In an interview with BFMTV a few days ago, he spoke of his wish to demonstrate that he is not “rotten” and that what is inflicted on him is “a scandal that will remain in the annals”.

Follow the trial live on Twitter account from our journalist:

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