French ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy was convicted and sentenced to a year of house arrest Thursday for illegal campaign financing of his unsuccessful 2012 re-election bid, six months after he was found guilty of corruption in a separate trial.
Sarkozy, who spent nearly twice the legal limit on his failed bid for a second term in office, will be allowed to serve the sentence at home by wearing an electronic tag. He can appeal the decision, which would suspend the sentence.
The 66-year-old Right-winger pulled out all the stops in 2012 to try to fend off the ultimately victorious Socialist candidate, Francois Hollande.
A series of lavish US-style election rallies caused his costs to spiral, with the final bill coming to at least €42.8 million, nearly double the legal limit of €22.5 million (£19.4m).
Sarkozy, who remains a hugely popular and influential figure on the right despite being caught up in multiple investigations since losing office, was not in court for the verdict.
At his five-week trial in May and June, the prosecution portrayed him as having a "cavalier" attitude to the public money available to candidates during campaigning and said he ignored warnings from his accountants about the ballooning costs.
Sarkozy dismissed the allegations of wanton recklessness as "a fairy tale", saying he had been too busy running the country to pay attention to the finer details of his campaign finances.
He also denied any knowledge of the fake invoices.
Illegal campaign financing carries a maximum sentence of a year in prison and a fine of €3,750 (£3,230).
Prosecutors had asked the court to give Sarkozy a one-year term, but to suspend six months of the sentence.
Thirteen other people, including Sarkozy’s former campaign manager, several Bygmalion executives and a handful of former directors of Sarkozy’s The Republicans party were also tried in the case. The court will deliver their verdicts on Thursday.
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