Former French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, appeared in a Paris courtroom on Monday to stand trial on accusations of corruption and influence-peddling, French media reported.
In 2014 he is said to have tried to obtain investigative secrets from a senior lawyer at the Court of Cassation through his lawyer.
Sarkozy’s long-time lawyer, Thierry Herzog, is also on trial. If the charges are proven, the two could face up to 10 years in prison.
The trial, which is to last until December 10, is considered unprecedented in modern French history. It is the first time a President has appeared in court facing such serious accusations.
In 2011, Sarkozy’s predecessor in office, Jacques Chirac, was given a two-year suspended sentence for embezzlement and breach of trust during his time as Mayor of Paris. Chirac did not, however, have to appear in court due to health problems.
Gilbert Azibert, former Advocate General at the Court of Cassation, the country’s highest court, is also charged along with Sarkozy and Herzog.
A possible adjournment is expected to be discussed at the outset of the trial, French media reported.
The 73-year-old Azibert has applied for this for health reasons. The court confirmed that Azibert’s lawyer had filed a relevant motion. BFMTV reported Azibert was not in court on Monday.
The complex case the court begins hearing on Monday concerns accusations that Sarkozy tried to bribe Azibert for secret information about a separate Sarkozy-linked investigation concerning campaign financing.
In return, the ex-President is said to have offered to support the top magistrate in his application for a cushy position in Monaco.
The accusations against Sarkozy are based on wiretapped telephone conversations between the politician and his lawyer Herzog.
Sarkozy denies any wrongdoing and has called the wiretaps illegal.
Sarkozy was President from 2007 to 2012. The 65-year-old has turned his back on politics but remains popular among conservatives who view him as a defender of civil liberties.
His memoir entitled “Le Temps des Tempetes” (The Time of Storms) was a bestseller over the summer.
Earlier this month, he also appeared alongside current French President, Emmanuel Macron and ex-President Francois Hollande for a World War I commemoration ceremony at Paris’ Arc de Triomphe.