Sarkozy expected in court for his questioning

The former head of state, who has been represented since the opening, on May 20, of the trial on the illegal financing of his 2012 campaign, will be heard this Tuesday before the Paris Criminal Court.

We have not seen him in three weeks of hearing, and his name has been mentioned so little that we would have almost forgotten that it is also his trial. Nicolas Sarkozy is expected Tuesday, June 15 in court, for his questioning on the excessive spending of his 2012 campaign. The former head of state, who has been represented since the opening of the Bygmalion trial on May 20, will be present before the Paris Criminal Court for his questioning, scheduled for 1:30 p.m., his lawyer, Me Thierry Herzog, confirmed to AFP.

The thirteen other defendants – former executives of Bygmalion and the UMP, campaign director, accountants – who marched to the bar, are all suspected of being involved to varying degrees in the double billing system imagined to hide the explosion of authorized expenses during the presidential candidate’s campaign for re-election. The real price of some 40 meetings organized by the event agency Bygmalion had been drastically reduced, and the rest – 80% of the bills – paid by the UMP (now LR), in the name of fictitious party conventions.

Unlike the others, sent back in particular for fraud or forgery, Nicolas Sarkozy is not blamed for this system, and appears for “Illegal campaign financing” only. He faces one year’s imprisonment and a fine of 3,750 euros. In March, he became the first ex-president of the Fifth Republic to be sentenced to prison (three years, one of which was closed), for corruption and influence peddling in the so-called case. “Eavesdropping”. In the Bygmalion folder, “The investigation did not establish” according to the accusation that Nicolas Sarkozy could have “to order”, “participate”, or even be informed of the system.

But the president candidate, far from being “Disconnected from his campaign”, made the choice with his team of “Spectacular and expensive meetings”, and asked to step up the pace – up to one meeting a day. A campaign “Of rare density”, marked by a “Total improvisation” principals, had described the accusation. For the organizers, an instruction: “It has to fart”, summed up at the start of the trial the head of meetings at Bygmalion, Franck Attal.

42.8 million, double the legal ceiling

The prosecution believes that Nicolas Sarkozy let spending slip, despite several clear alerts on the risk of overruns, and so “Unquestionably” benefited from fraud, which allowed him to have “Much higher means” what the law allowed: at least 42.8 million in total, almost double the legal ceiling at the time. To save him from having to publicly admit that his expenses had drifted “Spectacularly”, “With political and financial consequences” that would have followed, says the prosecution, it was decided to “Purge” the campaign account.

A thesis in which Nicolas Sarkozy does not believe: the price of his meetings was “Perfectly in line” with those of his opponent François Hollande, he told investigators. So, “Where did this money go?” The former secretary general of the UMP Jean-François Cope, cleared in this case and heard as a simple witness last week, has an idea. “You always have to ask yourself who is benefiting”, had he replied to the court when he was asked his “hypothesis” on the question of the trial: who ordered the fraud?

The sarkozysts and copéistes have always rejected the responsibility for this scandal which caused serial explosions on the right. When the case was revealed in the press in 2014, Jean-François Cope was first accused of being behind a system created to constitute a “slush fund” dedicated to his political future. Jérôme Lavrilleux, at the time chief of staff of Jean-François Copé and deputy director of the campaign, and the only one in the UMP to have recognized the fraud, assures that neither his boss, nor Nicolas Sarkozy, had been put in the spotlight. current. The other former executives of the UMP and the campaign, for their part, avoided talking about the former head of state. “Decisions were taken at the Élysée”, we have at most heard. On the sidelines of the interrogation of campaign director Guillaume Lambert last week, a defense lawyer was surprised: “Is someone going to ask a question about Sarkozy at some point?”

The trial is scheduled until June 22.

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