The Nanterre Criminal Court on Tuesday sentenced former minister Claude Guéant to eighteen months’ imprisonment, twelve of which were suspended on probation for having deliberately reduced the costs of his 2012 legislative campaign. For the firm part of his sentence of imprisonment (six months), the court requested accommodation in the form of house arrest under electronic surveillance. Mr. Guéant, who was absent during the deliberation, was also sentenced to a fine of 30,000 euros.
His lawyer, Me Philippe Bouchez El Ghozi, immediately appealed the judgment. “Mr. Guéant has the feeling of not having been heard by justice” during his trial in October, he reacted to AFP. “We do not yet know the reasons” for the judgment, “obviously, Mr. Guéant does not agree with this condemnation“, continued his lawyer, assuring that there was “no campaign account scams“.
The essential man of the presidency of Nicolas Sarkozy, now 77 years old, was in 2012 candidate for deputy in Hauts-de-Seine. The prosecution accused him of having knowingly reduced his campaign accounts and thus obtained a reimbursement of more than 30,000 euros. Mr. Guéant was also sentenced to a ban on practicing any commercial or industrial profession for a period of five years. He must also pay 30,529 euros “for the undue reimbursement of his campaign expenses“to the legal agent of the State, civil party, asked the president.
A four-page letter to voters is at the heart of this case. In this letter of January 3, 2012, Pierre-Christophe Baguet, UMP mayor (now LR) of Boulogne-Billancourt and outgoing deputy of Hauts-de-Seine, announced that he would support Claude Guéant to succeed him in the National Assembly. He had attached the declaration of candidacy of the latter. The two defendants deny having sought to have this mail financed by the city of Boulogne-Billancourt.
Mr. Baguet, for his part, was sentenced on Tuesday to eight months’ imprisonment with a simple reprieve and a fine of 3,750 euros. “The conviction and the severity of the sentence are incomprehensible“, reacted to AFP his lawyer, Me Mario Stasi. “We are considering appealing, as this is a case where there is no embezzlement of public funds, no personal enrichment, no harm to the city.”.