Nicolas Sarkozy: a lawsuit, unless a miracle

Except very improbable coup de theater, Nicolas Sarkozy will be well judged in the Bygmalion case. This Friday, the Constitutional Council rejected the priority question of constitutionality (QPC) filed by the lawyers of the former head of state. Henceforth, nothing stands in the way of his appearance before the Paris Criminal Court for "illegal financing of the electoral campaign", in this case the one, lost, of 2012. The examining magistrates consider that the candidate Sarkozy has totally exploded meters exceeding the authorized expenditure limit of more than 20 million euros. What the principal concerned disputes.

In support of their QPC, Nicolas Sarkozy's lawyers pleaded that he could not be sued again. In December 2012, the campaign accounts committee had rejected its accounts for a much lower slippage of 363,615 euros. Commission officials had considered that certain expenses that should have been included in it had not been included in his accounts. The Constitutional Council had confirmed the penalty the following year.

Relying on the rule of "non bis in idem" that one can not be judged twice for the same facts, the defense of Nicolas Sarkozy considered that the former President could not be punished again for his campaign accounts . Even so, in Bygmalion, we are talking about an infinitely higher amount of overruns.

An ultimate card to escape the trial

The Constitutional Council did not follow this argument. The Sages admit that it is certainly a question of repressing facts "identically qualified". But they do not put on the same level the "financial penalty" imposed by the commission and "the imprisonment penalty incurred by the candidate for the offense of exceeding the limit of election expenses, punishable by one year imprisonment" . According to them, they are facts of a different nature "which protect distinct social interests". In this case, the rule of "non bis in idem" does not therefore apply.

"This is a great disappointment, reacts Me Emmanuel Piwnica, the lawyer Nicolas Sarkozy. Our QPC was serious and until then the Constitutional Council had always considered that one could not cumulate the sanctions. The decision of the Sages is a blow to the former President. Even if he still has one final card – an appeal in cassation against the order for reference – a trial appears almost inevitable.

READ ALSO>Other investigations that threaten Sarkozy

Nicolas Sarkozy is being sued with 13 other people in this case, including the former leaders of his campaign. The investigation revealed the existence of a vast system of false invoices to mask the astronomical slippage of the expenses of its meetings, organized by Bygmalion. Although Justice Serge Tournaire admits that the former head of state was not aware of this fraudulent system, he believes he had been informed of the flight ahead of his expenses.

In addition to this Bygmalion case, Nicolas Sarkozy is under threat of a trial in the so-called "Paul Bismuth" case. Pursued for bribery and trading in influence, he is suspected of wanting to obtain confidential information from a magistrate in exchange for a service. Again, only the Court of Cassation could prevent him from settling on the bench of defendants.

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