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Wife of ex-French president Sarkozy suspect in witness tampering case

By AFP

May 2, 2024 08:43 PM


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Singer and model Carla Bruni was on Thursday questioned as a suspect in a witness tampering case against her husband, former French president Nicolas Sarkozy, two sources said.

Sarkozy, 69, was charged in October 2023 for illegal witness tampering in a case linked to allegations that he took money from late Libyan dictator Moamer Kadhafi to fund one of his election campaigns.

Investigators suspect that several people close to Sarkozy were involved in pressuring a key witness in that case to retract a statement he made incriminating the former president.

Questioned as a witness in June last year, Franco-Italian Bruni-Sarkozy, 56, is now a suspect. An investigation showed she deleted all the messages exchanged with French "paparazzi queen" Michele Marchand on the day she was charged with witness tampering in June 2021, the source close to the case and a judicial source told AFP.

Franco-Lebanese businessman Ziad Takieddine had claimed he delivered three suitcases stuffed with a total of five million euros ($5.3 million at current rates) in cash to Sarkozy's chief of staff in 2006 and 2007.

But in 2020 Takieddine suddenly retracted his incriminating statement, raising suspicions that Sarkozy may have put pressure on the witness to change his mind. The lead judge in the case is investigating Bruni's possible "desire to conceal" her exchanges with Marchand, the source close to the case said. Attempt to mislead justice -

Bruni is also suspected of having helped Marchand and paparazzo Sebastien Valiela obtain Covid tests in October 2020 to allow them to travel to Lebanon for an interview with Takieddine in which he retracted his claims.

There are now 11 defendants in the case, including Bruni, suspected of attempting to mislead the French justice system. Sarkozy is set to stand trial in early 2025 over the allegations that he conspired to take cash from the Libyan leader to illegally fund his subsequently victorious 2007 bid to become French president.

The right-winger, who ran France from 2007 to 2012, has faced a litany of legal woes since leaving office. In February, a Paris appeals court sentenced Sarkozy to six months of jail time to be served under house arrest.

He was convicted in the so-called "Bygmalion" affair for hiding the true cost of his failed 2012 re-election bid.

Last year, a court ruled he should spend one year in detention at home with an electronic bracelet due to his attempts to secure favours from a judge in a case uncovered by wiretapping.

He is taking both cases to the country's highest court.


AFP


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