The verdict is expected on Monday in a landmark corruption and influence trial that sees former French President Nicolas Sarkozy face jail if convicted.
Sarkozy, who served as president from 2007 to 2012, strongly denied all charges against him during the 10-day trial that took place late last year.
The 66-year-old politician is suspected of illegally attempting to obtain information from a senior judge about a legal lawsuit in which he was involved in 2014.
This marks the first time in modern French history that a former president has been tried for corruption. Sarkozy’s predecessor, Jacques Chirac, was found guilty of misuse of public funds in 2011 and given a two-year suspended sentence for acting during his tenure as Paris mayor.
Sarkozy’s co-defendants – his lawyer and long-time friend Thierry Herzog (65) and the now retired judge Gilbert Azibert (74) – also deny wrongdoing.
Prosecutors have requested two years in prison and a two-year suspended sentence for all three defendants for a “pact of corruption”.
“There has never been a pact,” Sarkozy told the court. “Neither in my head nor in reality.”
“I want to be freed from this shame,” he added.
The process focused on phone calls that took place in February 2014.
At that time, investigating judges had opened an investigation into the funding of the 2007 presidential campaign. Incidentally, during the investigation they discovered that Sarkozy and Herzog were communicating via secret cell phones that were registered under the pseudonym “Paul Bismuth”.
Conversations overheard on these telephones led prosecutors to suspect Sarkozy and Herzog of promising Azibert a job in Monaco in order to obtain information about another legal battle going on by the name of the richest woman in France, heiress of L’Oreal, Liliane Bettencourt, is known.
In one of those phone calls with Herzog, Sarkozy said of Azibert: “I’ll get him to move up … I’ll help him.”
In another case, Duke reminded Sarkozy to say a word for Azibert while on a trip to Monaco.
Legal proceedings against Sarkozy have been dropped in the Bettencourt case. Azibert never got the job in Monaco.
However, the prosecutors have come to the conclusion that the “clearly stated promise” in itself constitutes a corruption offense under French law, even if the promise was not kept.
Sarkozy vigorously denies any malicious intent.
He told the court that his political life was all about “giving (people) a little help. That’s all, a little help. “
“I was 100 billion miles away from the idea that we were doing something we didn’t have the right to do,” he said.
Sarkozy said he had not received any confidential information from Azibert.
Prosecutors believe that at some point Sarkozy was informed that the secret phones were bugged and that this is why he ultimately failed to help Azibert get the job.
The confidentiality of communications between an attorney and his client was a major issue in the process.
“You are looking at a man who has over 3,700 private conversations tapped … What did I do to deserve this?” Sarkozy said.
Sarkozy’s attorney, Jacqueline Laffont, argued that the entire case was based on “small talk” between a lawyer and his client.
“You do not have the beginning of a piece of evidence, not the testimony about the ease, the declaration about the ease,” she told the court.
Sarkozy retired from active politics after he was not selected as his Conservative Party’s presidential candidate for Emmanuel Macron’s 2017 French election.
However, he remains very popular with right-wing voters and plays an important role behind the scenes, including maintaining a relationship with Macron, whom he is supposed to advise on specific issues. His memoir “Die Zeit der Stürme”, published this summer, was a bestseller for weeks.
Sarkozy and 13 others will be tried again later this month for illegally funding his 2012 presidential campaign.
His Conservative party is suspected of spending 42.8 million euros ($ 50.7 million), nearly double the maximum authorized, to fund the campaign that ended in a victory for socialist rival Francois Hollande.
In another investigation that opened in 2013, Sarkozy is charged with stealing millions from then-Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi to illegally fund his 2007 campaign.
He received preliminary charges of passive corruption, illegal campaign funding, concealment of stolen assets from Libya and criminal association. He has denied wrongdoing.