Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy has been sentenced to three years in prison on charges of bribery and influence peddling, a court in Paris ruled in an historic sentence on Monday.
The former president was sentenced to three years in prison, two of them suspended. He is however unlikely to go to jail, as the one-year prison sentence can be served in home confinement with an electric bracelet.
The 66-year-old's lawyer said he would appeal the conviction and sentence.
Sarkozy was accused of trying, with the help of his legal adviser in 2014, to learn investigative secrets from Gilbert Azibert, then an advocate general at the Court of Cassation, regarding a separate investigation concerning campaign financing.
In return, the ex-president was said to have offered to support the lawyer in applying for a post in Monaco.
According to local media reports, the judge said Sarkozy forged a "corruption pact" with his lawyer and the advocate general, undermining the judiciary's independence, an offence of "extraordinary gravity."
The accusations were based on evidence from wiretaps.
Lawyer sentenced too
Sarkozy's lawyer, Thierry Herzog, and Azibert were also sentenced to three years each, both also including two years of a suspended sentence. Herzog may not exercise his profession for five years.
The trial is unique, as previously there had not been any allegations of bribery brought to court against an ex-head of state of the Fifth Republic of France, which was founded by Charles de Gaulle in 1958.
But Sarkozy, who ruled as president between 2007 and 2012, is not the first former head of state to be sentenced in France. Jacques Chirac received a two-year suspended sentence for embezzlement and breach of trust during his time as mayor of Paris.
The ruling, however, marks the harshest sentence ever handed to a former French president.
Sarkozy's lawyer Jacqueline Laffont said the sentence was "extremely harsh" and "unjustified."
He faces another trial in March, regarding campaign finance irregularities. Another long-running probe is looking into whether he received money from Libya for his successful presidential run in 2007. Sarkozy says he is innocent in both cases.