Chirac to face trial over alleged corruption
Jacques Chirac, the former French president, will stand trial for embezzlement in a Paris court early next year, his lawyer said yesterday.
The 77 year-old, whose presidency ran from 1995 until 2007, could face a 10-year prison sentence and €150,000 fine if found guilty. He will be the first French leader of the modern era to face a corruption trial.
Mr Chirac faces charges of abuse of public funds while he was mayor of Paris. It is alleged that he paid 21 allies for non-existent jobs as part of his drive for power in the 1990s. Last month, Bertrand Delanoe, the Socialist mayor of Paris, agreed to drop the town hall's civil lawsuit against Mr Chirac in exchange for €2.2m, the amount of taxpayer's money it claimed was misused.
The ruling conservative UMP party agreed to foot two-thirds of the bill while Mr Chirac will have to come up with the remaining €550,000.
Despite the deal, the criminal lawsuit still stands, Mr Chirac's lawyer, confirmed.
"Jacques Chirac will go before his judges; he has said so and nothing will change the situation," he said.
The deal between the town hall and the UMP did not amount to admission of guilt, he added.
Mr Chirac denies involvement in any "ghost jobs" system. He lost his presidential immunity from prosecution in 2007,
Mr Chirac also faces separate charges that he paid seven people for work unrelated to the council. Prosecutors are to decide on Oct 1 if these charges can also be heard at the trial. (© Daily Telegraph, London)