Max GorbachevAll materialsWrite to the authorThe development comes a month after Mr Sarkozy was sentenced to one year in prison after court found him guilty of illegally financing his 2012 re-election campaign, which the politician lost.The first day of the trial of allies of former French President Nicolas Sarkozy has begun in France. Former Chief of Staff Claude Gueant, ex-adviser and consultant Patrick Buisson, former adviser Julien Vaulpre, and ex-aide Emmanuelle Mignon are accused of misusing public money, cronyism, and embezzlement. Also on trial is Pierre Giacometti, former managing director of the Ipsos France polling company.The case refers to opinion polls commissioned by the Elysée Palace between 2007 and 2009. The prosecution says contracts for polling services worth 7.4 million euros ($8,5 million) were awarded to companies owned by Patrick Buisson and Pierre Giacometti without competition, which is a violation of a French law on public financing that requires transparency and competitive bidding.
The defendants may face up to seven years in prison as well as hefty fines. They deny the accusations.
Jerome Karsenti, a lawyer for local anti-corruption group Anticor, said the case illustrates “the way in which Nicolas Sarkozy governed, using the presidency and state resources for his personal interests, worrying foremost about his image and his re-election to the detriment of the law”.
French media write that Mr Sarkozy himself is not on trial because he is protected from liability by his presidential immunity. Some reports say that the former head of state may testify during the trial, which is expected to last for four weeks.
This comes a month after Sarkozy was sentenced to one year in prison for illegally financing his 2012 re-election bid. Earlier this year the politician was found guilty of corruption and received a one year sentence. He will not serve time in prison, with courts ruling that he can serve sentences at home. Mr Sarkozy plans to appeal both verdicts, which he described as a “witch hunt”.