Sarkozy's ex-wife seeks court gag on book

10th January 2008, Comments 0 comments

Cecilia went to court to block the release of a book in which she is quoted as describing the French president in unflattering terms

   PARIS, January 10, 2008 - Nicolas Sarkozy's ex-wife Cecilia went to court
Thursday seeking to block the release of a book in which the former first lady
is quoted as describing the French president in unflattering terms.
   Written by journalist Anna Bitton, "Cecilia" was due to hit bookshops later
this week, just days after Sarkozy all but confirmed his engagement to Italian
ex-supermodel and pop singer Carla Bruni.
   It is one of three books on Cecilia that are to be released this week, once
again putting the spotlight on Sarkozy's personal life at a time when the
president's approval rating has slumped.
   The former first lady whose divorce from Sarkozy was announced in October
is quoted as attacking his parenting skills, personality, his aides and his
   But a close aide to Sarkozy said Cecilia had flatly denied making the
comments and took a swipe at the media for "getting completely out of hand"
with its coverage of the head of state's personal travails.
   "We are now saying that he doesn't love his children. Can you not see where
this is leading?" said Roger Karoutchi, the secretary of state for liaison
with parliament in a television interview.
   "This is ridiculous. We have to stop. It's getting completely out of hand,"
he said.
   Karoutchi defended Sarkozy, saying he has an affectionate and close bond
with his 10-year-old Louis, born from his marriage to Cecilia.
   Sarkozy also has two sons, Pierre, 22, and Jean, 21, from his first
marriage to Marie-Dominique Culioli.
   A Paris court was due to hear Cecilia's request "for a suspension of
publication" later Thursday after the excerpts were published, said lawyer
Michele Cahen.
   In a statement Cecilia said she had "asked her lawyers to take any
necessary action to ensure that her rights are protected with regard to the
remarks that are attributed to her" in the book.
   But Bitton told AFP that she was "very surprised and regretted" Cecilia's
decision to try to block the release.
   "The book is based on the long relationship that we have developed over the
years as part of my journalistic work," said Bitton.
   In a separate book on Cecilia's mission to Libya in July to win the release
of Bulgarian nurses accused of infecting children with AIDS, two journalists
describe how she ordered her bodyguards to break open the medic's jail cells.
   But one of the freed Bulgarian nurses denied the report in the book
"Commando Cecilia", by journalists Michael Darmon and Yves Derai, saying the
Libyans unlocked the doors.
   In October, Sarkozy became the first French president to divorce while in
office when he ended his stormy 11-year marriage to Cecilia, a former model
and public relations executive.
   The 52-year-old leader told a news conference on Tuesday that his new
romance with Bruni was "serious" and suggested the couple would soon marry.
   Critics have accused Sarkozy of parading his romance in the media while
neglecting the public's day-to-day concerns.
   Recent photos of Sarkozy and Bruni at the Egyptian resort of Luxor and the
ancient Jordanian city of Petra fueled charges that he was holidaying while
the French at home were struggling with growing concerns over cost of living.
   Recent polls have shown his rating has slipped three to four points, while
one showed a seven-point plunge to 48 percent -- the lowest since his election
in May.

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