France’s former president Nicolas Sarkozy said Tuesday that he might consider taking his appeal against a corruption conviction to the European Court of Human Rights.
“I can’t accept being convicted for something I didn’t do,” Sarkozy told the French daily Le Figaro a day after he was found guilty of corruption and handed a three-year prison sentence.
The sentence, which deals a major blow to any lingering political ambitions the 66-year-old might have, includes two years suspended and the remaining year to be served at home with an electronic bracelet.
The judgement was “riddled with inconsistencies,” Sarkozy told Le Figaro. It “doesn’t provide any proof, but just a bundle of circumstantial evidence”.
Sarkozy, who was president for one term between 2007 and 2012, had already said on Monday that the findings were “totally unfounded and unjustified” and that he would appeal.
The court found that Sarkozy had formed a “corruption pact” with his former lawyer and friend Thierry Herzog to convince a judge, Gilbert Azibert, to obtain and share information about a legal investigation.
The crime was “particularly serious having been committed by a former president who was the guarantor of the independence of the judiciary”, Monday’s judgement said.
Suggesting the legal battle could be a long one, Sarkozy reiterated his determination to appeal.
But “perhaps it will be necessary to take this battle to the European Court of Human Rights,” he said.
“It would be painful for me to have my own country condemned, but I am ready because that would be the price of democracy.”
Asked about his political future, amid speculation that France‘s rightwing might view him as a possible candidate in next year’s presidential elections, Sarkozy insisted: “I’ve said that I won’t be a candidate and I stand by that.”