Sarkozy shuns court as election funding trial rekindles old party infighting


The delayed trial of former French president Nicolas Sarkozy and 13 others over the financing of his failed 2012 presidential election campaign finally got under way on Thursday May 20th in Paris. Sarkozy, the only one of the accused not to appear in court, is accused of the “illegal funding of an election campaign” and faces up to a year in prison and a fine of up to 3,750 euros if found guilty. The prosecution says the ex-president's election campaign spent nearly double the 22.5-million-euro legal spending limit. To hide this illegal overspend a PR and events company is said to have sent fake bills to Sarkozy's UMP party (now called Les Républicains) rather than the election campaign itself. Sarkozy, who was convicted of corruption and influence peddling in a separate case on March 1st, and all the other accused deny the charges. Mediapart's legal affairs correspondent Michel Deléan was in court to hear the divisions that are already emerging between the different defendants.

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There is little risk of being bored at the Bygmalion trial, which takes its name from the public relations and events firm at the centre of the case. Often in court proceedings involving politics the lawyers outdo each other in their waffle and each defendant adopts a predetermined role in the process. But things are very different in this delayed court case concerning the illegal funding of former president Nicolas Sarkozy's failed 2012 presidential election campaign. After just two days of hearings, on Thursday 20th and Friday 21st of May, the old fault-lines and animosities on the defendants' side are already clearly visible.