French President Macron visits the Grand Mosque of Paris
Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy reacts as he waits for the arrival of French President for the commemorative century exposition of the opening of the Grande Mosque of Paris, in Paris, France on October 19, 2022. Ludovic MARIN/Pool via Reuters

Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy will try to convince a Paris court to overturn his March 2021 conviction for bribery and influence-peddling at an appeal hearing starting on Monday.

The initial trial saw Sarkozy sentenced to three years in prison, two of them suspended, in a stunning fall from grace for a man who served as president from 2007 to 2012 but is now facing a string of judicial investigations and trials.

The court found that Sarkozy had tried to bribe a judge after leaving office, and to peddle influence in exchange for confidential information about an investigation into his 2007 campaign finances.

"He took advantage of his status and the relationships he had formed," judge Christine Mee said at the time.

Sarkozy repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and said he was the victim of witch-hunts and lies.

His appeal suspended the execution of the sentence in the original trial.

He would have probably not gone to jail as the judge signalled she was open to ordering him to wear an electronic tag.

The appeal hearing, which is scheduled to last until Dec. 16, will review both the verdict and the sentence.

The only other president of the Fifth Republic to be convicted by a court was Sarkozy's conservative predecessor, the late Jacques Chirac, who was found guilty of corruption in 2011.

(Writing by Juliette Jabkhiro and Ingrid Melander; Editing by Andrew Heavens)