Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

FASHION

Paris, Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2014-2015.

Read more

REPORTERS

Exclusive: an unlikely victim of the 'War on Terror'

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

2014-07-11 21:47 AFRICA NEWS

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Finally, a good use for new app "Yo"

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 11 July 2014 (part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 11 July 2014

Read more

#THE 51%

Sweden: A Feminist's Paradise?

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Politics: parties under pressure

Read more

FOCUS

In Burma, the rise of radical Buddhism

Read more

  • UN Security Council calls for Israeli-Palestinian ceasefire

    Read more

  • Holland beat hosts Brazil 3-0 to finish third in World Cup

    Read more

  • Afghan presidential candidates agree to full vote audit, Kerry says

    Read more

  • France’s Kadri wins eighth stage at Tour de France

    Read more

  • Legal challenge to French mayor’s ban of Muslim hijab on beach

    Read more

  • Last of the Ramones, Tommy Ramone, dies aged 62

    Read more

  • Video: Outrage in wake of deadly Casablanca buildings collapse

    Read more

  • Iraqi forces ‘executed prisoners in reprisal’ for ISIS killings

    Read more

  • Ukraine promises retaliation after rebel assault

    Read more

  • Putin revives old Cuban flame and eyes Latin American minerals

    Read more

  • Amazon snubs French free delivery ban with one-cent charge

    Read more

  • Cleveland's NBA fans hail 'return of king' LeBron James

    Read more

  • Exclusive: an unlikely victim of the 'War on Terror'

    Read more

  • Magnitude 6.8 quake, small tsunami hit east Japan

    Read more

  • Suspect in Brussels Jewish Museum shooting drops extradition appeal

    Read more

France

Sarkozy’s ex-wife 'berated' Libya’s Gaddafi

© AFP

Text by Tony Todd

Latest update : 2013-10-07

The ex-wife of former French president Nicolas Sarkozy, Cécilia, claims in a new book that she delivered a blistering verbal attack on Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi when she went to Tripoli seeking the release of six medics on death row.

Cécilia Attias – who divorced former-French president Nicolas Sarkozy shortly after his 2007 election victory – claims in a new book that she berated and insulted the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi when she was sent to secure the freedom of six medics facing execution.

The five Bulgarian nurses and one Palestinian doctor had been convicted – allegedly after torture – of starting an HIV epidemic at a children’s hospital in the Libyan city of Benghazi in 1998.

In excerpts of her book “A Need for Truth” (Une Envie de Verité), published Thursday in weekly magazine Le Point, Attias described a "lonely" diplomatic mission to Libya, telling how she was driven – alone and in a car that blocked mobile phone signals – to an isolated compound near Tripoli.

Once there, she was led into a murky underground bunker. The door slammed behind her and she heard a key turn to lock her in.

‘Don’t stand so close to me!’

In walked Gaddafi, she wrote, “this decrepit former athlete with a puffy face, obviously tired and looking like a second-rate actor in a second-rate production”.

Before he could speak, she claims she launched a verbal barrage at the Libyan strongman: “Are you at all aware of how I have been treated? And don’t stand so close to me!

“If anything happens to me here you will have to answer for it in front of the international community. And you don’t want that to happen.”

After a confused exchange  – in which he made vague excuses for not seeing her earlier – Attias felt she had the upper hand.

“He was obviously taken aback,” she wrote. “And I realised what was going on. The decision [to release the prisoners] was not being blocked by him, but by his government and by his son, Saif al-Islam.”

‘Are you happy now?’

“I want to invite your husband to Tripoli,” Gaddafi stuttered, according to Attias.

She said she then laid down an ultimatum: “He will never come to see you unless you release the medics.”

Then, “angry and obviously wanting an end to the conversation”, he replied: “I want to give them to you. There, you can have them. Are you happy now?”

Attias says she immediately dispatched two French security officers to the prison where the six were held, and after confused negotiations with the frightened governor, they left with the freed nurses and the doctor.

Sarkozy and Saif al-Islam, speaking on behalf of the Libyan government, later denied that a huge arms deal signed between France and Libya in the following months had anything to do with the prisoners’ release.

Sarkozy treated with respect

Attias’s less-than-complimentary description of Gaddafi – who was killed in a rebel uprising in 2011 that enjoyed strong French military backing – is the only time she goes out of her way to tarnish any of the players in her life story.

Notably, she treats her former husband with a large degree of respect.

She wrote that she met and fell in love with her future spouse Richard Attias in 2005, later returned to Sarkozy’s side for his presidential campaign and despite becoming France’s first lady in May 2007, divorced him soon after.

"What happened to me has happened to millions of people. One day you no longer have your place in the couple, the couple is no longer the essential thing of your life,” she said. “It no longer functions; it no longer works.”

“It just so happened that he was French president, but I did what I had to do,” she said, adding that some of her friends had divorced their husbands hoping to take her place.

“Some people will do anything for money and power,” she wrote.

Cécilia Attias’s book is on general release from next week.

Date created : 2013-10-03

  • LIBYA

    Held by militia, Gaddafi's son misses Tripoli hearing

    Read more

  • LIBYA

    French honorary consul escapes Benghazi attack

    Read more

  • LIBYA

    Libya to try Gaddafi son Saif al-Islam in August

    Read more

Comments

COMMENT(S)