Former President Sarkozy: I am innocent, but do not return to active politics

French former President Nicolas Sarkozy, convicted of corruption, will, if necessary, fight before the European Court of Human Rights to prove his innocence. I cannot accept being convicted of something I did not do, he says in an interview with Le Figaro daily. Theres no evidence against me. However, it excludes a return to active politics.

Sarkozy (66) was sentenced to three years in prison on Monday, two of which were suspended for corruption and abuse of power. He would have tried to get confidential information from a top official about a legal investigation that was running into him. That official would have been offered a job in Monaco in return.

The former President (2007-2012) announced immediately after the verdict that he would appeal. Now, for the first time, he also deals with the substance of the verdict. I have had thousands of statements of support, hundreds of phone calls, he says in Le Figaro. But he is particularly harsh about the work of the judges, which he thinks is not right.

Doubt impartiality judges

During the judicial investigation, all procedural rules were violated. Sarkozy claims to question the impartiality of judges. According to him, the verdict hangs on each other of incongruences.

I do not want to call it a political verdict, because that would damage our democracy, he starts cautiously. But after that, hes out hard. According to him, everyone at the trial could see that there was nothing left of the accusations.

It says in black and white in the pieces that I didnt lobbied in Monaco for a job. No ones been paid a centime. No one has had any advantage. There have been no casualties, says Sarkozy.

In total, 4500 phone calls were bugged from me. In what democracy can an opposition leader – because I was – be spying on in this way for seven months, while the contents of those phone conversations were leaking out in the press? , Sarkozy wonders. If this had happened in Putins Russia, human rights defenders would have shouted murder and fire long ago.

No more candidate

In the interview he is also asked about his political ambitions. In his party, the right-wing Les Républicains, some hope for his return. In over a years time, presidential elections will be held in France. I have left active politics behind, says Sarkozy. I will not run. But that does not mean that I will not give my opinion in the elections.

After all, Le Figaro asks him what he did after the judges verdict. I spent the evening with my family. We watched a series: The Killing.