In the ongoing investigation into the retraction of Ziad Takieddine’s statements against former French president Nicolas Sarkozy, the courts have just shed light on a previously undisclosed aspect of the “Save Sarko” operation, shedding light on the role of Carla Bruni-Sarkozy. Sarkozy’s wife was charged on Tuesday, July 9, with witness tampering and associating with wrongdoers to commit fraud, Le Monde has learned from a judicial source. She was placed under judicial control and barred from entering in contact with all those accused except her husband.

Bruni-Sarkozy is suspected of having acted as an intermediary between her husband and his friend Michèle Marchand (known as “Mimi Marchand”), a prominent figure in the celebrity press suspected of having orchestrated the impromptu and high-profile withdrawal of one of Sarkozy’s main accusers in the investigation into the alleged Libyan financing of his 2007 presidential campaign.

Contacted, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy Bruni’s lawyer, Paul Mallet, did not respond.

In October 2020, Sarkozy was indicted for a fourth time in the investigation into the financing of his 2007 campaign. Marchand launched operation “Save Sarkozy,” a mission where she, along with journalists and intermediaries, traveled to Lebanon, to shoot images of Takieddine, who had been living there since his conviction in France in June 2020 in a different case. The businessman, who until 2020 claimed to have handed over Libyan funds to Sarkozy’s campaign team, denied the transfer of these funds on camera. However, the interview, published in Paris Match and broadcast on French television channel BFM-TV, did not grab much attention from the media.

Marchand’s team tried other avenues. First the legal route, by having Takieddine sign an official document before a notary in December 2020 – to no avail. Then, in May 2021, Marchand took a more covert route, attempting to pay Lebanese officials to obtain the release of Hannibal Kadhafi, son of the late Libyan dictator, held in Lebanon, so that the Kadhafi family would clear Sarkozy’s name. Takieddine also claimed to have been promised several million euros in exchange for his retraction but only received a few thousand euros, and later went back on his original accusations.

Phantom number

Until now, the investigation had focused on Marchand’s involvement and the shadowy intermediaries responsible for promising, finding and giving the money to the various targets. Two important questions remained unanswered: Did Sarkozy approve the operation? And how did he keep track of its progress? During questioning, Noël Dubus, a convicted swindler in the case, offered a clear answer: “Mimi managed this with Carla.” Both women deny it. Technical traces and inconsistencies in the explanations given by the defendants convinced the investigating judges otherwise.

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