Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, 43, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy gave birth to a baby girl on Wednesday evening, their first child as a couple.

"/> Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, 43, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy gave birth to a baby girl on Wednesday evening, their first child as a couple.

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Bruni-Sarkozy gives birth to baby girl

Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, 43, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy gave birth to a baby girl on Wednesday evening, their first child as a couple.

Bruni-Sarkozy gives birth to baby girl

Bruni-Sarkozy’s baby daughter is her second child and Sarkozy’s fourth, but a first for France as no president in modern history — all of them men — has fathered a legitimate child while in office.

She had her first child Aurelien with philosopher Raphael Enthoven in 2001.

Bruni-Sarkozy became France’s “first lady” after her marriage to the president in 2008, with some critics accusing the president of seeking to bolster his “Bling Bling” lifestyle.

A successful singer, who speaks fluent Italian, French and English, has since sought to protect her private life since marrying Sarkozy, who leads France’s right wing and who is struggling in opinion polls.

Throughout her pregnancy, which was never officially announced, she has largely kept away from the prying eyes of the world’s press.

At a summit in May of leaders from the Group of Eight developed economies in the northern French port of Deauville, her lightly-rounded frame was photographed as she welcomed leaders’ wives.

On September 17th she made another public appearance during an open day at the Elysee Palace.

“I’m superstitious … I didn’t talk about it,” she said in a recent interview with the BBC, adding that the pregnancy was in any case “not interesting for French people.”

“We’re going through an economic crisis,” she told Madame Figaro magazine a few days later to explain her discretion.

Her Italian industrialist family moved to France when Carla was just five, at a time when wealthy Italians faced a real threat of kidnapping from the left-wing militant group the Red Brigades.

Before marrying Sarkozy, her name had been linked romantically to a series of global stars, including Rolling Stones singer Mick Jagger and guitarist Eric Clapton.

Bruni was the youngest of three children; the eldest, a brother, died of cancer in 2006, while her elder sister, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi is an actress.

Following her marriage, Bruni took to charity work including in the fight against AIDS and illiteracy, while continuing to record songs, sometimes playing the guitar Michelle Obama gave her in 2009 as “a sign of friendship.”

Her third album, “Comme si de rien n’etait” (As if nothing had happened), came out in July 2008, but her next musical instalment has been postponed to autumn 2012 “because of the presidential election,” according to her friends.

She also did not go to the Cannes Film Festival in May for the premiere of Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” in which she played her first albeit brief onscreen role, that of a museum guide.

Her desire to stay away from the limelight is matched by the interest that the rest of the world has in the French first lady, an international star ever since her time as a model.

A dumbfounded former minister said recently: “One day I was in the back of beyond in China and I asked the local Communist Party official what he wanted me to send him from France. ‘A signed copy of Carla’s latest album,’ he said.”

Ever since she debuted internationally as first lady during a trip to London in March 2008, wowing the world with her refined wardrobe and respect for the Queen, Bruni has been a darling of crowds and photographers.

Local newspapers often joke that “Carla has arrived, accompanied by her husband.”

With seven months to go before her husband is expected to stand in the presidential election, Bruni was asked recently how she would cope with the expected ferocious campaign, with her husband’s popularity already battered.

“I don’t know if my husband will campaign! As to human ferocity, I’ve known about that since I was at primary school,” she said.

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Corruption trial begins for France’s ex president Sarkozy

Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy goes on trial on Monday on charges of trying to bribe a judge, in what could be a humiliating postscript to a political career tainted by a litany of legal investigations.

Corruption trial begins for France's ex president Sarkozy
Nicolas Sarkozy. Photo: AFP

Though he is not the first modern head of state in the dock – his predecessor and political mentor Jacques Chirac was convicted of embezzlement – Sarkozy is the first to face corruption charges.

He fought furiously over the past six years to have the case thrown out, and has denounced “a scandal that will go down in history”.

“I am not a crook,” the 65-year-old, whose combative style has made him one of France's most popular rightwing politicians, told BFM TV this month.

Prosecutors say Sarkozy promised the judge a plush job in Monaco in exchange for inside information on an inquiry into claims that Sarkozy accepted illicit payments from L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt for his 2007 presidential campaign.

Their case rests in large part on wiretaps of phone conversations between Sarkozy and his longtime lawyer Thierry Herzog, which judges authorised as prosecutors also looked into suspected Libyan financing of Sarkozy's 2007 campaign.

That inquiry is still underway, though Sarkozy caught a break this month when his main accuser, the French-Lebanese businessman Ziad Takieddine, suddenly retracted his claim of delivering millions of euros in cash from Libyan dictator Moamer Kadhafi.

Sarkozy and Herzog have assailed the taps on their phones as a breach of client-attorney privilege, but in 2016 a top court upheld their use as evidence.

Charged with bribery and influence peddling, Sarkozy risks a prison sentence of up to 10 years and a maximum fine of €1 million.

Herzog, a leading member of the Paris bar, faces the same charges as well as violation of professional secrecy. The trial is expected to last three weeks.

'A boost'

Investigators discovered that Sarkozy used an alias – Paul Bismuth – to buy a private phone for conversing secretly with his lawyer.

On around a dozen occasions, they discussed reaching out to a top French judge, Gilbert Azibert, a general counsel at the Cour de Cassation, France's top appeals court for criminal and civil cases.

Prosecutors say Azibert, who is also on trial, was tasked with trying to obtain information from the Cour de Cassation lawyer in charge of the Bettencourt inquiry, and to induce him to seek a verdict in Sarkozy's favour.

In exchange, Sarkozy would use his extensive contacts to give “a boost” to Azibert's efforts to secure the cushy Monaco post.

“He's been working on it,” Herzog tells Sarkozy in a call from early 2014.
Azibert was already considered a leading candidate for the job, but “if you give him a boost, it's always better,” Herzog says in another.

“I'll make him move up,” Sarkozy tells Herzog, according to the indictment by prosecutors, who compared his actions to those of a “seasoned offender”.

But later, Sarkozy tells his lawyer that he would not “approach” the  Monaco authorities on Azibert's behalf — a sign, according to prosecutors, that the two men had been tipped off about the wiretaps.

“Mr Azibert never got any post in Monaco,” Sarkozy told BFM television this month – though under French law, just an offer or promise can constitute corruption.

Still in limelight

Sarkozy, a lawyer by training, has long accused the French judiciary of waging a vendetta against him, not least because of his attempts to limit judges' powers and criticism that they are too soft on delinquents.

He will again be back in court in March 2021 along with 13 other people over claims of campaign finance violations during his unsuccessful 2012 re-election bid.

Prosecutors accuse Sarkozy's team of using a fake-invoices scheme orchestrated by the public relations firm Bygmalion to spend nearly €43 million on the lavish run – nearly twice the legal limit.

The long-running legal travails hindered his comeback bid for the 2017 presidential vote, losing out as the rightwing nominee to his former prime minister François Fillon.

Yet like other former French presidents, Sarkozy has surfed a wave of popularity since announcing his retirement from politics in 2018, pressing the flesh with enthusiastic crowds at his public appearances.

Lines of fans queued over the summer to have him sign his latest memoirs, “The Time of Storms”, which topped best-seller lists for weeks.

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