(AFP) – Jan 11, 2008
PARIS (AFP) — Nicolas Sarkozy's ex-wife Cecilia on Friday lost a court bid to block the release of a book in which she is quoted as describing the French president as a womaniser and uncaring father.
The Paris civil court rejected a request for an injunction order to prevent "Cecilia" by Anna Bitton, a journalist and former friend of Cecilia Sarkozy, from coming out in bookstores.
The book went on sale Friday along with two others written by journalists, once again putting the spotlight on Sarkozy's personal life at a time when his approval rating has slumped.
It quotes remarks made by a bitter Cecilia in November -- a month after her divorce to Sarkozy was announced -- assailing her ex-husband as a "womaniser" and "stingy", "a man who loves no one, not even his children".
Cecilia, 50, said Sarkozy had a "ridiculous side" to his personality that she helped keep in check during their 11-year marriage and that since their divorce, he had become "undignified", staying out in karaoke bars until 4:00 am, the book said.
"Nicolas does not look like a president of the republic," she is quoted as saying. "He has a real behavioural problem".
The former first lady also attacks the president's entourage as a "gang of young guys, drunk on power who take themselves for the princes of Paris".
At the court hearing on Thursday, Cecilia's lawyers argued that a ban was warranted because the book -- excerpts of which have been published at length in French magazines and newspapers -- "seriously violated her right to privacy".
They did not deny she had made the remarks, but stressed that they were made in confidence.
But a judge ruled that a "ban, even a temporary one, would be a disproportionate measure, especially since the book was already on sale and that many weekly magazines had published several excerpts of the book in question, without being targeted for suits".
After initially saying they planned to appeal the decision, Cecilia's lawyers announced they would file a separate suit for violation of her right to privacy, which could be heard in two or three months.
The book release came just days after Sarkozy all but confirmed his engagement to Italian ex-supermodel and pop singer Carla Bruni.
The 52-year-old president told a news conference on Tuesday that his new romance with Bruni, 40, was "serious" and suggested the couple would soon marry.
Members of Sarkozy's governing UMP party have expressed concerns privately that the "Elysee soap opera" was not sitting well with the rightwing electorate.
"This 'tabloidy' side is destabilising the image" of the presidency, said a deputy, who asked not to be named.
Socialist opposition leader Francois Hollande accused the president of reducing the French public to "voyeurs" by personalising power.
He called Sarkozy the "look-at-me president" for allowing too much exposure of his private life.
Veteran far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen chimed in: "He tells us about his love life, but his private life is less interesting to us than his public one."
Sarkozy became the first French president to divorce while in office when he ended his stormy marriage to Cecilia, with whom he has a 10-year-old son, Louis.
He also has two sons, Pierre, 22, and Jean, 21, from a previous marriage to Marie-Dominique Culioli.
A second book "Ruptures" gives details of Cecilia's mission to Libya in July to win the release of Bulgarian medics, while another book, "Cecilia: The Hidden Face of the Former First Lady", is billed as an unauthorised biography.
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