Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy goes on trial Monday for attempted bribery of a judge in what could turn into a humiliating postscript to a political career tainted by a litany of legal woes.
Though he is not the first modern French head of state in the dock -- his predecessor and political mentor Jacques Chirac was convicted of embezzlement -- Sarkozy is the first to face corruption charges.
He fought furiously for six years to have the case thrown out, denouncing "a scandal that will go down in history".
"I am not a crook," the 65-year-old, whose combative style made him one of France's most popular politicians, told BFM TV this month.
Prosecutors say Sarkozy promised the judge a plush job in Monaco in exchange for inside information on an inquiry into claims that Sarkozy accepted illicit payments from L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt for his 2007 presidential campaign.
Their case rests in large part on wiretaps of phone conversations between Sarkozy and his longtime lawyer Thierry Herzog, which judges authorised as prosecutors also looked into suspected Libyan financing of Sarkozy's 2007 campaign.
That inquiry is still underway, though Sarkozy caught a break this month when his main accuser, the French-Lebanese businessman Ziad Takieddine, suddenly retracted his claim of having delivered millions of euros in cash from Libyan dictator Moamer Kadhafi.
Sarkozy and Herzog have assailed the taps on their phones as a breach of client-attorney privilege, but in 2016 a top court upheld their use as evidence.
Charged with bribery and influence peddling, Sarkozy risks a prison sentence of up to 10 years and a maximum fine of one million euros ($1.2 million).
Herzog, a leading member of the Paris bar, faces the same charges as well as that of violating professional secrecy. The trial is expected to last three weeks.
Source: France 24