The corruption trial against former French president Nicolas Sarkozy has been postponed, a few minutes after it began on Monday, at the request of the lawyers of one of the accused, Judge Gilbert Azibert, because of his health.
The president of the court has ordered a medical examination of the accused that must be delivered before next Thursday, when he is scheduled to reopen a trial in which Sarkozy faces a sentence of up to 10 years in prison and one million euros a lot.
Sarkozy, who presided over France between 2007 and 2012, has become this Monday the first former French president to sit on the dock for a case of possible corruption and influence peddling brought to light by wiretaps.
Along with him, his lifelong lawyer, Thierry Herzog, and magistrate Azibert, 73, the only one of the three who has not gone to court, are accused, alleging health problems incompatible with the current Covid pandemic. 19.
“Given his age and medical history, with heart and respiratory problems, the doctors have advised my client not to travel to Paris in this context of a pandemic. My client is very interested in testifying in person in this trial,” said the lawyer by Azibert, Dominique Allegrini
The Prosecutor’s Office opposes the delay of the trial and has alleged that, in the worst case scenario, the accused can testify by videoconference, as recorded in the judicial regulations issued by the Government to adapt to the coronavirus.
The delay in the trial has not prevented the image of a former president entering a court to sit on the dock, something unprecedented in France.
A photo avoided by his predecessor in office, Jacques Chirac, whose health problems allowed him to absent himself from the corruption trial in which he was convicted in 2011 for illegally financing his party through fictitious jobs from his time at the head of the Mayor of Paris.
Sarkozy, 65, retired from the political front line since 2016, although he remains a widely heard voice in the conservative Republican party, is accused of having promised to act to promote Azibert, in exchange for this helping him with one of the multiple investigations that justice opened against him when he left the Elysee.
The case for which he is being tried came to light in the framework of wiretaps ordered by another investigation, that of the funding his 2007 campaign with money from Muammar Gaddafi’s Libyan regime.
Investigators intercepted conversations between Sarkzoy and his lawyer in which they spoke of a possible promotion of Azibert, in exchange for the magistrate interfering in another case, the alleged abuse of the weakness of the elderly heiress of the L’Oréal cosmetic empire Liliane Bettencourt.