Former French president Nicholas Sarkozy became the first holder of the top post in the Republic to receive a jail sentence, when on Monday he was found guilty of peddling influence. He was sentenced to three years in jail, two suspended.

The offence dates to 2014, when Sarkozy’s phone was tapped in connection with another affair, the alleged misuse of funds – from Libya – in a previous election campaign. Investigators found that Sarkozy – no longer in office – was using a secret SIM card to communicate with his long-term lawyer Thierry Herzog, as he tried to escape a conviction for electoral fraud.

The evidence collected suggested that Sarkozy had promised a leading French lawyer a post in Monaco if, in return, he would act in his favour in the ongoing investigation. The judge in question, Gilbert Azibert, was accused of using his influence to suppress evidence, although he was not appointed to a post in the Principality.

All three defendants were sentenced to the same prison terms, but it is unlikely that any of them will see the inside of a jail as the one-year ‘closed’ can be served at home with restrictions on movement.

Monday’s conviction is not the end of Sarkozy’s troubles. In March he faces another trial for election offences allegedly committed in 2012.

FILE PHOTO: Nicholas Sarkozy Reuters