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French president's ex-wife fails to block publication of tell-all book

PARIS - French President Nicolas Sarkozy's ex-wife lost a legal battle Friday to stop publication of a book in which she allegedly called him a "womanizer" and other choice epithets.

PARIS - French President Nicolas Sarkozy's ex-wife lost a legal battle Friday to stop publication of a book in which she allegedly called him a "womanizer" and other choice epithets.

The ruling by a Paris court is the latest episode in the French leader's highly publicized romantic life.

He also suggested this week that he and his latest love interest, one-time model Carla Bruni, are on the verge of tying the knot.

Meanwhile, his former wife, Cecilia Sarkozy and their relationship are the subject of three books that hit bookstores this week, generating buzz about the president's private life three months after the two divorced.

Her lawyers asked a court to ban one of them, "Cecilia," saying it violated her private life. The author, journalist Anna Bitton, quotes Cecilia Sarkozy as calling the president a "womanizer," "cheap" and "ridiculous."

The court threw out the complaint Friday, ruling that a ban "would be totally disproportionate." The book went on sale Thursday.

Michele Cahen, a lawyer for Cecilia Sarkozy, said she would appeal the decision. She added that Cecilia denied making many comments that appear in the book.

"What is very serious is that the journalist puts phrases in quotes and attributes them to Cecilia Sarkozy, though she never said them," Cahen said.

She added that Cecilia Sarkozy had turned down an offer to collaborate on the book and had protested its publication as soon as she heard it was coming out.

Cahen said she personally had not read the other two books.

The judge noted that Cecilia Sarkozy had discussed her relationship with her ex-husband in two interviews after her divorce, suggesting she was not seeking to keep her private life secret.

The author's lawyer, Christophe Bigot, argued that the Sarkozys - both media-savvy - had made their private life public as part of their effort to get him elected president.

He also insisted the book was not insulting to Cecilia Sarkozy, although it calls her a shopping addict who complains that her alimony payments are too low for her lifestyle.

Cecilia Sarkozy had known the journalist for a long time and treated her as a friend, said Jean-Yves Dupeux, another lawyer for the former first lady. He said the lawyers argued in court that the book went "beyond transgression of the intimacy of the private life of Madame Sarkozy."

Sarkozy's relationship with Bruni, whose past boyfriends include Mick Jagger and Donald Trump, has dominated front pages in recent weeks and this week he even hinted that he planned to marry Bruni.

Until news of the Sarkozys' marital troubles broke in 2005, Cecilia Sarkozy was a constant figure at her husband's side.

The two split for a few months in 2005, and Paris Match magazine published photos of Cecilia Sarkozy in New York with events organizer Richard Attias. When she eventually returned to her husband, she chose not to play such a public role in his political life.

Throughout the election campaign and in the months following the election, Cecilia Sarkozy seemed ill at ease as first lady. She did not cast a ballot in the runoff and rarely appeared with her husband in public during his first months in office. After weeks of rumours, the Elysee Palace announced Oct. 18 that the couple had divorced by mutual consent.

 
 
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