Carla Bruni charged in Sarkozy campaign probe in France

General |Author: AFP | July 10, 2024, Wednesday @ 07:25| 1570 views

(FILES) French singer Carla Bruni (C) waves her hand in a polling station during the vote of the second round of France's legislative election in Paris, on July 7, 2024. According to local reports on July 9, 2024, Carla Bruni has been summoned before a judge for possible indictment. (Photo by Sameer Al-Doumy / AFP)

French former first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy was charged Tuesday in connection with an investigation into the alleged Libyan financing of her husband Nicolas Sarkozy's 2007 presidential campaign, a judicial source told AFP.

The 56-year-old was charged with hiding evidence and associating with wrongdoers to commit fraud, the source said.

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

The singer is suspected of concealment of witness tampering and involvement in an attempt to bribe Lebanese judicial personnel, among other violations.

Her lawyers, Paul Mallet and Benoit Martinez, did not immediately comment when contacted by AFP.

Sarkozy, 69, was charged in October 2023 with illegal witness tampering, as part of a probe into whether he took money from late Libyan dictator Moamer Kadhafi to fund his 2007 election campaign.

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

Bruni-Sarkozy could be charged or given the status of assisted witness, which under the French legal system falls short of being formally charged.

She has already been questioned twice by investigators, first as a witness in June 2023, then as a suspect in early May.

An investigation showed Bruni-Sarkozy deleted all messages exchanged with French "paparazzi queen" Michele Marchand on the day Marchand was charged with witness tampering in June 2021.

Franco-Lebanese businessman Ziad Takieddine had claimed several times that he helped deliver up to five million euros ($5.4 million at current rates) in cash from Kadhafi to Sarkozy and his chief of staff in 2006 and 2007.

But in 2020, Takieddine suddenly retracted his incriminating statement, raising suspicions that Sarkozy and close allies may have paid the witness to change his mind.

Authorities took an interest in Bruni-Sarkozy when Marchand justified her trips to the Sarkozy home as social calls with the singer.

Sarkozy is set to stand trial in 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-wing politician, who ran France from 2007 to 2012, has faced a litany of legal woes since leaving office.

© Agence France-Presse