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Paris (AFP) – Former French first lady Carla Bruni lashed out on Friday against media coverage of France’s latest MeToo scandal involving an actor in her sister’s new film.

The famous singer and wife of ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy defended the actor on the grounds that he should be presumed innocent and not “unfairly” victimised.

Bruni’s sister, Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi, is a director whose latest movie about a sexually promiscuous group of drama students in the 1980s, “Les Amandiers” (titled “Forever Young” abroad), has been a hit at the domestic box office.

But the film’s 25-year-old star, Sofiane Bennacer (also said to be Bruni-Tedeschi’s boyfriend), has been the subject of multiple accusations of sexual harassment and rape, rumours of which were already circulating during the film’s shoot.

He denies wrongdoing. Police are examining two allegations of rape and one of violence against a partner.

On Thursday, left-wing newspaper Liberation ran testimony from several women who claimed to have been assaulted by Bennacer.

In a statement on Friday, Bruni-Tedeschi denounced “a media lynching”.

Her sister also jumped to Bennacer’s defence on Instagram, saying: “We do not relieve the pain of victims by creating new victims in a wild and random way and just as unfairly.”

Bruni accused Liberation of flouting the presumption of innocence, “one of the foundations of our democracy”.

Valeria Bruni Tedeschi and Sofiane Bennacer premiered their film ‘Forever Young’ (‘Les Amandiers’) at Cannes in May Stefano Rellandini AFP

Bruni-Tedeschi said the producers of her film were concerned about allegations against Bennacer during the casting, “but I told them these rumours would not stop me and I couldn’t envision making the film without him.”

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“Forever Young” was not such a hit with foreign critics when it premiered at Cannes this year.

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The Guardian described it as “an endlessly tedious story of self-involved drama students”.

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