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Former justice minister files paternity suit

By Dheepthi Namasivayam, CNN
updated 1:29 PM EST, Tue November 6, 2012
Former French justice minister Rachida Dati is launching a paternity suit Tuesday against a French businessman.
Former French justice minister Rachida Dati is launching a paternity suit Tuesday against a French businessman.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Dati says Desseigne is the father of her daughter, who was born in 2009
  • Desseigne says he wasn't Dati's only lover at that time
  • The president of the Lucien Barriere casino group refuses to take a DNA test
  • Dati now serves as a European Parliament deputy and mayor of a Paris district

Paris (CNN) -- Former French justice minister Rachida Dati is launching a paternity suit Tuesday against a French businessman she claims is the father of her daughter, an attorney for the businessman confirmed.

In the case filed at a Versailles court, Dati formally identifies Dominique Desseigne as the biological father of Zohra, who was born in 2009. But the 68-year-old president of the Lucien Barrière casino group, which owns the luxurious Le Fouquet's hotel, refuses to take a paternity test to confirm or exclude him as the father, and alleges that he was not Dati's only lover in the year her daughter was conceived.

Dati, 46, served as justice minister in former President Nicolas Sarkozy's government from 2007-2009. She is now a deputy of the European Parliament and mayor of Paris' posh 7th arrondissement.

In a weekend interview with the French newspaper Le Monde, Desseigne's lawyer, Michèle Cahen, alleges that Dati had up to eight lovers in the year Zohra was conceived. Cahen confirmed his comments to CNN Monday. The list allegedly includes Sarkozy's brother, a Qatari attorney-general, a television broadcaster and a former Spanish prime minister.

"I will not give in to this because I behaved correctly and I have nothing to be reproached for," the newspaper quoted Desseigne as telling friends, referring to his right to refuse a paternity test.

Dati's attorneys did not immediately return calls for comment from CNN.

Her pregnancy in 2008 was shrouded in deep mystery after she refused to reveal the father's identity, with whom she did not pursue a relationship. Last month, a French newspaper revealed that Dati would file a paternity case against Desseigne.

In Le Monde's article, a friend of Desseigne explained that the businessman did not want a child with Dati and broke off the relationship in 2008, after which Dati allegedly sent him threatening letters and demanded money from him.

Cahen told CNN that the Versailles court is expected to deliver its verdict in the next month on whether Desseigne will be legally obliged to take a DNA test.

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