Former Interior Minister Claude Guéant sentenced to one year in prison, including four months suspended

The former Minister of the Interior Claude Guéant as well as four former advisers and collaborators of Nicolas Sarkozy, suspected of favoritism or embezzlement of public funds, are fixed on their fate in the case known as the Elysée polls. Claude Guéant was found guilty of the offense of “favoritism” by the court, which condemned him to one year’s imprisonment, including eight months, with a deferred committal order. The latter will appeal the conviction, his lawyer said.

“Claude Guéant cannot take refuge behind the argument of ignorance of the rules of public order”, justified the president of the Court concerning the offense of favoritism. Patrick Buisson, then a close adviser to the Head of State, was given a two-year suspended prison sentence and a 150,000 euro fine and the former pollster Pierre Giacometti was given a 6-month suspended sentence and a 70,000 euro fine. At the time director of cabinet, Emmanuelle Mignon was sanctioned with a 6-month suspended sentence. On the other hand, the former opinion leader Julien Vaulpré was released.

Claude Guéant absent during the hearing

Shortly after 2 p.m., the court began to read the judgment in the absence of the 77-year-old ex-minister. Until the morning the presence of the former senior state clerk, imprisoned in the prison of Health for more than a month because of a previous conviction, was indeed uncertain: he finally asked to be represented by his lawyer.

First for a former tenant of Beauvau, Claude Guéant was imprisoned on December 13. The Paris Court of Appeal ruled in early November that he was not paying the fine and damages he was imposed on time in 2017 in the case of cash bonuses from the Ministry of Health. ‘Interior. He made a request for release which was considered on Wednesday and will be decided on February 7.

Heavier requisitions against Claude Guéant

This judicial past telescoped the trial of the Elysée polls, which took place in October and November, leading to an extremely rare reopening of the debates, more than three weeks after the end of the hearings. He also led the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF) to increase its requisitions against Claude Guéant: considering that he does not “respect court decisions”, the prosecution asked for one year’s imprisonment, against six months previously, as well a fine of 10,000 euros for favoritism and embezzlement of public funds through negligence.

For a month, the court immersed itself in the exercise of power under Sarkozy, examining the millions of euros in political advice and opinion research billed by the companies of Patrick Buisson and Pierre Giacometti, as well as by the Ipsos institute.

The former head of state has never been implicated in this case, because he is covered by the presidential immunity guaranteed by the Constitution. But he was summoned, in an unprecedented decision, to appear as a witness on November 2: during a brief and tense hearing, Nicolas Sarkozy refused to answer questions from President Benjamin Blanchet, in the name of the “separation of powers “.

Disputed expenses allocated without advertising or call for tenders

For the prosecution, the disputed expenses were the subject of favoritism, because they were awarded without advertising or a call for tenders. In question: 2.7 million euros for Patrick Buisson, 2.1 million for Pierre Giacometti and 1.5 million for Ipsos. Patrick Buisson, 72, a former influential inspiration to the president, is also being prosecuted for embezzlement of public funds, due to two contracts under which he was paid 10,000 euros per month for advice and could also deliver surveys at his discretion.

Between 2007 and 2009, the PNF counted 235 opinion polls, bought and then resold with margins of 65 to 71%, for a profit of 1.4 million euros.

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