Defiant Sarkozy on offensive after graft conviction

Paris, March 3 (AFP/APP): France’s former right-wing president Nicolas Sarkozy on Wednesday launched a defiant offensive to clear his name after being handed a three-year sentence for corruption, lambasting the verdict and mulling a petition to Europe’s top rights court.

Sarkozy, 66, gave a front-page interview to the newspaper Le Figaro and was due later Wednesday to give a prime-time interview to the evening TF1 news bulletin. With three other legal cases also pending against him, commentators have said Monday’s conviction should deal a terminal blow to any hope Sarkozy has of a political comeback.

But true to his combative reputation, the man who ruled France from 2007-2012 as a self-styled “hyper-president” indicated that he would not be going quietly. “I can’t accept being convicted for something I didn’t do,” Sarkozy told Le Figaro.

Sarkozy, who will appeal, is not expected to go behind bars: the sentence includes two years suspended and the remaining year would 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 bunch of circumstantial evidence”, he said.

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