Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy and 13 other defendants are facing a variety of charges over the massive and illegal overspend in the ex-head of state's presidential election campaign in 2012 and the attempts to hide it. The prosecution claims that the public relations and events firm Bygmalion helped to conceal this multi-million-euro overspend by issuing fake bills for staging political rallies to Sarkozy's political party, the UMP, rather than just the election campaign itself. But Bygmalion's executives at the company and its events subsidiary have no intention of shouldering the blame for what happened. Mediapart's legal affairs correspondent Michel Deléán was in court to hear the evidence from one of them, Franck Attal.
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.