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Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy due in court on corruption charges

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By Mark Armstrong  with AFP
Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy
Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy   -   Copyright  Ludovic Marin/Pool via AP   -  

The trial of the former French President Nicolas Sarkozy on corruption charges in the so-called "wiretapping affair" is due to start on Monday, November 23.

Also accused are his lawyer, Thierry Herzog, and Gilbert Azibert, a former magistrate at the Court of Cassation, France's highest court of appeal.

What is Nicolas Sarkozy accused of?

The case goes back to 2013 when judges decided to wiretap the former president amid an investigation on possible Libyan financing of his 2007 presidential campaign.

At that time, Nicolas Sarkozy was using a false name, "Paul Bismuth", to make phone calls to call his lawyer.

They talked about the decision that the Court of Cassation was about to take regarding the seizure of presidential diaries in a separate case in which the charges were dismissed.

The Court had to determine if the diaries could be used in other investigations involving Sarkozy.

The wiretaps lead the judges to suspect the former president and his lawyer of trying to influence the judge in the case, Gilbert Azibert, in exchange for a position at the Council of State in Monaco.

How is Nicolas Sarkozy defending himself?

Sarkozy and the other two defendants deny all the charges.

The former president refutes any approach to the Monaco authorities on behalf of Gilbert Azibert.

Prosecutors have underlined that even if Azibert did not "get the job," the mere solicitation or acceptance" by the parties involved would be sufficient proof of guilt.

What could the sentence be?

If the accusations of active corruption are proven then Sarkozy faces a prison sentence of up to ten years and a fine of a million euros.

And this is not the only legal hurdle he's facing.

Now retired from politics, he's also preparing for the trial over his campaign expenses for the 2012 presidential election.