The ex-head of state, 65, arrived shortly before 1:30 p.m. with his lawyer, nodding to journalists before quickly entering a courtroom filled to the maximum of the gauge authorized by the epidemic coronavirus. On the benches, include two sons of the former President of the Republic.
Interrupted Thursday evening, the interrogation of his lawyer and co-accused, Thierry Herzog, resumed at the beginning of the afternoon with the questions of the prosecution, before that of Nicolas Sarkozy, who seemed focused on his chair, a pocket between the hands.
Present since November 23, the first day of this unprecedented trial in which he is tried for corruption and influence peddling, he has not yet really spoken.
The image of a former president at the helm is unprecedented under the Fifth Republic. Only Jacques Chirac was tried and convicted in 2011 in the case of fictitious jobs of the City of Paris, but without having appeared at the hearing for health reasons.
Denouncing “infamies” a week ago, Mr. Sarkozy repeated two days later wanting “the truth” and assured that he would answer “all questions”, nearly seven years after the revelation of this affair in the heart from which is the notion of secret.
First, the secrecy of the deliberation that Gilbert Azibert, high magistrate within the Court of Cassation, is suspected of having violated in 2014 by transmitting information to Nicolas Sarkozy, via Thierry Herzog, on a cassation appeal linked to the Bettencourt case.
At the time, the former president had obtained a dismissal in this case in Bordeaux, but he was seeking to cancel the seizure of his presidential agendas by the high court, because they could have been used in other cases .
In exchange for this information or even an influence on the procedure, Nicolas Sarkozy is suspected of having given Gilbert Azibert a “boost” for an appointment in Monaco. Position he did not get.
Charges refuted en bloc Wednesday at the bar by the former high magistrate, then attorney general in a civil chamber of the Court: his interest in the Bettencourt case was strictly “legal” and he never tried to influence his colleagues, he said.
The secret, then, of the conversations between a lawyer and his client, whom the defense considers trampled by the wiretapping of Thierry Herzog and Nicolas Sarkozy.
The whole file is indeed based on discussions between the two men, intercepted on an unofficial line opened in the name of “Paul Bismuth”, within the framework of another case targeting Nicolas Sarkozy: that of suspicion of Libyan financing of his campaign presidential election of 2007.
Brandi from Monday by the defense, this professional secrecy was evoked Thursday by the great penalist Henri Leclerc, 86 years old, called to the bar as witness, then again invoked by Me Herzog at the beginning of his interrogation.
“I have never been a corrupter”, he hammered, finally acknowledging having wanted to render a “service” to his friend Gilbert Azibert but, he swore, it was in no way a ” counterpart “.
The first week of hearing took place in a tense atmosphere between the national financial prosecutor’s office (PNF) and the defense, which denounces a “trash file”.
For its part, in a severe indictment in October 2017, the prosecution compared the methods of Nicolas Sarkozy to those of “a seasoned delinquent”.
Retired from political life since 2016 but still very popular within the Les Républicains party (ex-UMP), the former president, saying he was “combative”, had described the trial as “a scandal that will go down in the annals”, defending to be a “rotten”.
Like his two co-convicts, he faces ten years in prison and a million euros fine.
The PNF’s indictment is expected Tuesday, before the defense pleadings. The trial is due to end Thursday evening.