French prosecutors are seeking jail time for former President Sarkozy in a transplant trial

Prosecutors in the transplant trial against French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Tuesday demanded that he be sentenced to four years in prison, of which he would serve two years.

The 65-year-old right-winger, the country’s first modern head of state to appear on the bridge, is accused of trying to bribe a judge with a plum pension job in exchange for inside information about an investigation into his campaign finances.

Prosecutors demanded the same sentence for Sarkozy’s lawyer and co-defender, Thierry Herzog, as well as for Judge Gilbert Azibert.

They said Herzog should also be expelled for five years.

Sarkozy, who led France from 2007 to 2012, had told the court on Monday that he “never committed the slightest act of corruption” and promised to go “all the way” to clear his name at the landmark trial.

The charges of corruption and influence – among several lawsuits against him – result in a penalty of up to ten years and a fine of one million euros (1.2 million dollars).

‘Drawn through mud’

Sarkozy defended himself in court for the first time on Monday, saying he wanted the prospect of a fair hearing after being “dragged through mud for six years”.

“What did I do to deserve this?” asked Sarkozy, who wore a dark suit and a surgical mask under his nose and promised to “go all the way to the truth.” The courtroom was as packed as virus restrictions allowed.

Prosecutors say he and Herzog tried to bribe Judge Azibert in exchange for information about an investigation into allegations that Sarkozy had received illegal payments from the late L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt during her 2007 presidential campaign.

The state’s case is based on wiretapping conversations between Herzog and Sarkozy, something the former president condemned during his appeal to the court.

Azibert was a senior adviser to the French Supreme Court of Appeal at the time. He never got the job in Monaco.

However, Sarkozy was cleared of all wrongdoing in the Bettencourt affair but still faces a number of legal issues.

He is still accused of receiving millions of euros in funding from Libyan dictator Moamer Gadhafi for his 2007 election campaign, and he is also accused of fraudulently overusing his failed 2012 re-election.

Only another French president, Sarkozy’s political mentor Jacques Chirac, was brought to justice after leaving office, but he was excused from attending his 2011 corruption trial due to ill health.

Chirac was given a two-year term due to the creation of ghost jobs at City Hall in Paris, which was used to fund his party when he was mayor of the city.

(AFP)