Ex-French first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy charged with witness tampering in husband's campaign case

Nicolas Vaux-Montagny
AP
Carla Bruni-Sarkozy in 2023.
Carla Bruni-Sarkozy in 2023. Credit: Ernesto S. Ruscio/Getty Images for Campari

Former supermodel and French first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy was given preliminary charges Tuesday for involvement in alleged efforts to pressure a witness who accused ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy of receiving illegal campaign financing from Libya.

Bruni-Sarkozy was placed under judicial supervision on Tuesday, which included a ban on contact with all those involved in the proceedings with the exception of her husband, according to a judicial official not authorised to be publicly named when speaking about an ongoing investigation.

Preliminary charges against Bruni-Sarkozy include witness tampering and participation in a criminal association with an attempt to commit fraud in efforts to deceive magistrates investigating her husband on suspicion of receiving illegal funds during his 2007 presidential election campaign, the official said.

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Bruni-Sarkozy’s lawyer did not respond to requests for comment. After she was questioned by police in May, her lawyers said she provided ‘‘useful clarifications and explanations’‘ but didn’t comment further.

The witness involved, Ziad Takieddine, is central to accusations that Sarkozy received millions in illegal payments from the regime of then-Libyan President Moammar Gadhafi.

Nicolas Sarkozy, president of France from 2007 to 2012, was already convicted in two other legal cases. He has vigorously denied wrongdoing in all the cases.

In February, an appeals court in Paris upheld a guilty verdict against the former president for illegal campaign financing in his failed 2012 re-election bid. Sarkozy was sentenced to a year in prison, of which six months were suspended. Sarkozy’s lawyers have appealed to the Court of Cassation, France’s highest court. With the appeal pending, Sarkozy can not be imprisoned in line with French law.

He was accused of having spent almost twice the maximum legal amount of 22.5 million euros ($US27.5 million) on the re-election bid that he lost to Socialist Francois Hollande.

In a separate case in 2021, Sarkozy, 69, was found guilty of corruption and influence peddling.

He’s the first former French president in modern history convicted and sentenced to prison for actions during his term.

Sarkozy retired from active politics in 2017.

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