Published: 25 Jan 2013 12:04 GMT+01:00 | Print version
Updated: 25 Jan 2013 12:04 GMT+01:00
Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy paid a discreet visit to Geneva on Thursday night to attend an annual fund-raising gala for Keren Hayesod, the United Israel Appeal charity.
Sarkozy arrived in the Swiss city earlier in the day in a private jet without his wife, Carla Bruni, but accompanied by armed guards, the Tribune de Genève reported.
The politician, who was voted out of office last year, was the guest of honour at the evening event held at the Hotel President Wilson, a five-star luxury hotel overlooking Lake Geneva.
Sarkozy, whose maternal grandfather was a Greek Jew who converted to Catholicism, met with Dan Jillerman, former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, the Tribune said.
He also reportedly met with Charles Tamman, owner and general manager of the President Wilson, as well as Lily Safra, the widow of billionaire Jewish banker Edmond Safra.
The press was excluded from the event, which was restricted to invited guests and members of Keren Haysod.
Sarkozy formally announced that he would not be talking to the press, the Tribune reported.
His visit was unannounced apparently to avoid any hint of trouble.
For its Geneva annual gala in February 2011, Keren Hayesod was forced to change plans after word got out that its guest of honour and keynote speaker was to be former US president George W. Bush.
Human rights activists filed criminal complaints in Geneva against Bush for alleged torture.
The former president ended up cancelling his appearance amid security concerns.
Swiss authorities were being pressured to arrest him and open a criminal investigation if he set foot on Swiss soil.
The complaints were linked to the alleged mistreatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, the US naval base in Cuba where captives from Afghanistan, Iraq and other countries were detained as part of Bush’s “war on terror”.
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