Nicolas Sarkozy is on a pre-election charm offensive to show how calm and polite he is and draw a line under past outbursts, such as when he told a visitor to the Paris agricultural show: “Sod off, prick.”
But the jumpy French president is still finding it hard to keep a lid on his verbal assaults. During an off-the-record briefing at the Nato summit, Sarkozy lost his cool when asked about the “Karachigate” corruption scandal, which threatens to engulf him personally, calling the journalists questioning him “paedophiles”.
Sarkozy dismissed as “crazy” allegations that he had used illegal kickbacks from an arms deal to Pakistan to fund a political campaign. “No one among you believes I arranged bribes and kickbacks for submarines for Pakistan,” he told reporters.
Then, alluding to testimony by a former defence minister, Charles Millon, who said he had an “absolute conviction” there had indeed been kickbacks, Sarkozy turned to one journalist and fumed about what he called the absurdity of the investigation.
He raged: “And you! I’ve no evidence against you. But it would seem you’re a paedophile. Who told me? I have an absolute conviction. I’ve seen the intelligence reports but I won’t tell you which ones; I’ve seen someone but I won’t tell you who, and it was word of mouth. But I have an absolute conviction you’re a paedophile ... Can you explain yourself?”
After a 10-minute diatribe against various journalists, during which he kept returning to the paedophile analogy, he walked off declaring: “See you tomorrow, paedophile friends.”