The former President of the Republic appears from Monday in the wiretapping affair, known as the Paul Bismuth affair, a pseudonym that Nicolas Sarkozy used to escape the surveillance of investigators.
The former head of state will have to defend himself against accusations of corruption: he is having wanted to obtain judicial information against a prestigious position.
This is the first trial that Nicolas Sarkozy will face, but not the last.
Before the Bygmalion case, it is the so-called "eavesdropping" affair which will be discussed from Monday before the criminal court.
This will be the first time that a former president will appear physically - for health problems, Jacques Chirac was absent from his trial in 2011. For three weeks, at the rate of four afternoons per week, the former president will have to answer to the heads of corruption and influence peddling.
At his side will be judged his friend and lawyer Thierry Herzog and a former high magistrate of the Court of Cassation, also tried for violation of professional secrecy.
Nicolas Sarkozy and his "TOC" Paul Bismuth
It was within the framework of another investigation, the case of the suspicions of Libyan financing of his victorious 2007 presidential campaign, that from the end of 2013, the magistrates began to listen to the conversations of the former leader. state on the official line.
Then, a few months later, they listen to another, more "confidential" since it was opened under a false name: it is the famous Paul Bismuth line, in reality the surname of a former classmate of Thierry. Herzog.
In police jargon, this is called an OCD, for occult telephone.
On this line, Nicolas Sarkozy and his counsel discuss information they seek to obtain on the decision to be made by the Court of Cassation on the return of the agendas of the former President of the Republic, seized by justice in the Bettencourt affair.
In these conversations, it is about a high magistrate of the court of cassation, Gilbert Azibert, a longtime friend of Thierry Herzog, who could help them.
And a little later, still on tap, of the little help that Nicolas Sarkozy could give him in exchange for obtaining a post of State Councilor in Monaco.
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"The approach in Monaco has been made"
On February 5, 2014 for example, Thierry Herzog explains: "I told him that you would receive him, but that you knew perfectly well what he was doing, and therefore he was very happy. He told me about something about Monaco. ".
"I will help him", Nicolas Sarkozy answers immediately.
But at the end of the month, the day after a dinner in Monaco between the former head of state, his wife and Thierry Herzog, the two men change their tone on the phone, on both lines, official and unofficial, to five minutes apart: "could you do something or not? (for Gilbert Azibert, editor's note)", asks Thierry Herzog.
"No, but, I… You're going to be mad at me, I've thought about it since… I didn't feel him talking about it, I don't want to"
Finally, at the beginning of March, on Gilbert Azibert's line, also tapped, the investigators heard this: "The process in Monaco has been made. I will simply tell you when we will see each other face to face. We were obliged to say some things on the phone. "
For the investigating magistrates, these conversations sign the existence of influence peddling, acts of corruption and for Thierry Herzog and Gilbert Azibert, a breach of secrecy and today allow the referral of the three interested parties to a court. correctional.
"Not a single penny at stake"
His relatives whom we were able to meet affirm: Nicolas Sarkozy is determined to explain himself publicly after more than 50 hours of questioning in front of the police officers and the judges, for a case which he considers grotesque, while recalling that in this history, there is "not a single cent at stake".
The conversations in question (13 out of the 153 listened to on the Paul Bismuth line) are foundational for the prosecution, but the defense could well challenge them from the start of the debates, on the double ground that they were initiated in the context of a another file, the Libyan file, according to the technique known as "driftnets", and that they infringe the secrecy of relations between a lawyer and his client.
As for the content of these conversations, in the entourage of the former head of state, we relativize, explaining that the latter, like others, sometimes speak beyond their thinking.
One way to try to demonetize embarrassing remarks.
Another argument invoked, the reality of the facts: the information provided by Gilbert Azibert turned out to be false and his intervention presumed to try to influence the decision of his colleagues who ruled on the return of the agendas of Nicolas Sarkozy seized by justice in the Bettencourt affair clearly did not succeed, since the decision was contrary to the interests of the former president.
As for his post as State Councilor in Monaco, the senior magistrate retired in France has never obtained it.
Even if in law, if there is a link between the requested service and the expected compensation, this characterizes corruption and influence peddling, regardless of the materialization of the "corrupting pact".
Finally, what makes the defense of Nicolas Sarkozy particularly angry, it is the method which it considers "unfair" of the magistrates concerning the preliminary investigation opened by the PNF to try to identify the mole which would have warned Nicolas Sarkozy and Thierry Herzog that they were tapped, after the two men radically changed their speech on the phone on the question of Gilbert Azibert.
Investigation of which they were not aware before its classification without continuation last year in spite of their multiple requests.
Nicolas Sarkozy, according to his relatives, is "impatient" to explain himself and hopes to obtain a release.