Trump’s indictment is a US first, but what about countries in Europe?

Donald Trump has become the first former US President to face criminal charges — but on the international stage, he’s not alone. 

The former leader and current 2024 Republican presidential hopeful pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records.

Plenty of other countries including democracies have prosecuted their current or former leaders. 

According to Axios, leaders who left office since 2000 have been jailed or prosecuted in at least 78 countries, including in Europe. 

Here’s a list of European leaders who have been prosecuted in the last two decades. 


The former prime minister Ivo Sanader was found guilty of corruption and was sentenced to 8 years in prison.

He was charged for funnelling millions in state cash through an advertising agency for personal gain. He’s currently serving his sentence.


Two former presidents have been charged. The first one was Jacques Chirac in 2011. He was convicted of corruption and handed a two-year suspended sentence.

He was found guilty of embezzling public funds to illegally finance the party he led. He died in 2019. 

Former French Presidents Jacques Chirac, right, and Nicolas Sarkozy, left.

The second one is Nicolas Sarkozy in 2021.He was convicted of trying to bribe a judge in 2014, after he had left office. 

Sarkozy was sentenced to three years in jail, two of them suspended, which he is currently appealing. 


Christian Wulff, the former president went on trial after he was accused of receiving bribes during his tenure but he was found not guilty in 2014.


Silvio Berlusconi, the former prime minister, was acquitted of charges of bribery in three trials in 2021, 2022 and 2023. 

The latest was when an Italian court acquitted the billionaire of bribing witnesses to lie about his notorious and allegedly hedonistic “bunga bunga” parties.

As of Wednesday, the media mogul was being treated in an intensive care unit in Milan

He had served a year of community service for tax fraud in 2012 and received a year’s prison sentence for arranging a police wiretap of one of his opponents to be leaked. 

He has faced more than 30 criminal court cases since entering politics in 1994.

On Wednesday, Berlusconi was being treated in an intensive care hospital in Milan.


José Sócrates, the former prime minister was indicted on corruption charges. 

But in 2021, a judge dismissed these charges but did uphold lesser charges of money laundering and falsifying documents. 

Where are leaders most prosecuted?

The region where most countries have prosecuted former leaders over the last two decades is Latin America.

In Peru, for example, every president but one who served since 1985 has been arrested or charged.

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