Sarkozy denounces “unconstitutional” summons to testify in the trial of ex-aides

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Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, convicted twice in recent months, on Tuesday described as “unconstitutional” his summons to testify in the trial of former assistants accused of favoritism over voting contracts.

President from 2007-2012, Sarkozy was in a typically provocative form before the Paris Criminal Court, exercising his right not to answer questions.

“It is an essential principle of democracies known under the name of separation of powers and as President of the Republic I do not have to account for the organization of my office or the way in which I exercised my warrant, “he told the court.

He said the decision to summon him was “completely unconstitutional” and “totally disproportionate”.

Protected by his presidential immunity, the former head of state has never been charged or questioned in the ballot contracts affair.

But in a surprise move, the trial judge ordered Sarkozy to appear as a witness to help shed light on the case.

Five collaborators and allies of Sarkozy, including his former chief of staff Claude Guéant and the ex-adviser and consultant Patrick Buisson, have been on trial since October 18 for abuse of public money and cronyism.

Prosecutors say the voting contracts signed by Sarkozy staff during his 2007-2012 term were sealed in secrecy and without competition, violating French public finance laws that require transparency and tendering.

The defendants deny all the charges.

>> After the guilty verdict, Sarkozy faces more trials and tribulations

In late September, a French court sentenced Sarkozya to one year in prison for illegally funding his 2012 re-election bid, seven months after receiving a separate prison sentence for corruption.

Sarkozy, who is appealing the two convictions, is not expected to serve a sentence behind bars as the courts have ruled that he can wear an electronic bracelet at home instead.

He promised to clear his name and accused French prosecutors of a “witch hunt”.

The 66-year-old has also been indicted on allegations that he received millions of euros for his 2007 election campaign from the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

Despite his legal woes that seem to have ended his political career, at least for now, he remains a very influential figure on the right as France prepares for the presidential elections in April.

Key figures in the centrist government but increasingly to the right of President Emmanuel Macron, such as Prime Minister Jean Castex and Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, are former allies of Sarkozy.

(AFP)

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