Carla Bruni-Sarkozy charged with witness tampering

By BBC (World News) | Created at 2024-07-10 12:25:27 | Updated at 2024-07-21 18:35:10 1 week ago


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France's former first lady, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, has been charged over an election funding scandal dating back to 2007 involving cash from the then Libyan dictator, Col Muammar Gaddafi.

According to French media, Ms Bruni-Sarkozy, 56, was charged with hiding evidence and associating with wrongdoers to commit fraud.

She was placed under judicial control and barred from being in contact with all those accused except her husband, Nicolas Sarkozy.

Ms Bruni-Sarkozy is also suspected of concealment of witness tampering and involvement in an attempt to bribe Lebanese judicial personnel, among other violations.

Her lawyers told AFP that Ms Bruni-Sarkozy was determined to assert her rights and challenge the "unfounded decision".

Mr Sarkozy, who was the president of France from 2007 to 2012, is due to go on trial next year over allegations he took money from Gaddafi to finance his successful election bid.

He is accused of corruption, illegal campaign financing, benefiting from embezzled public funds and membership in a criminal conspiracy. He has always denied all the charges.

The investigation into the allegations was opened in 2013, two years after Saif al-Islam, son of the then leader Gaddafi, first accused Mr Sarkozy of taking millions of his father's money for campaign funding.

The following year, Lebanese businessman Ziad Takieddine, who for a long time acted as a middleman between France and the Middle East, supported the claims.

He told judges he had written proof that Mr Sarkozy's campaign bid was "abundantly" financed by Tripoli, and that the €50m (£43m) worth of payments continued after he became president.

Years later, Mr Takieddine told French media that in 2006-07 he had personally handed over suitcases stuffed with banknotes to Mr Sarkozy and his chief of staff, Claude Guéant, who later denied this.

But in 2020, Mr Takieddine suddenly retracted his statement about handing over large amounts of money.

This raised suspicions that Mr Sarkozy and his allies - including his wife - might have paid him to change his mind.

In June, Ms Bruni-Sarkozy was found to have deleted messages exchanged with a French businesswoman who was questioned by police over accusations of witness tampering.

Since losing his re-election bid to socialist François Hollande in 2012, Mr Sarkozy has been targeted by several criminal investigations.

In 2023, he was given a suspended prison sentence for trying to bribe a judge, and earlier this year, he was found guilty of illegally funding his 2012 re-election campaign.

He and Ms Bruni-Sarkozy, an Italian-born former supermodel and singer, married in 2008. They had a daughter, Giulia, in 2011.

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