French ex president Jacques Chirac gets two years suspended for corruption
Published 15/12/2011 | 10:11
FORMER French president Jacques Chirac has been given a two year suspended sentence on his conviction for diverting public funds and abusing public confidence.
Mr Chirac, (79), was not in court in France to hear the verdict because of ill-health.
He was President of France from 1995 to 2007, but was on trial on charges that dated back to his time as mayor of Paris from 1977 to 1995.
He was accused of paying members of his Rally for the Republic (RPR) party for municipal jobs that did not exist.
The prosecution had urged the judge to acquit Mr Chirac and nine others accused in the trial.
During his presidency in 2004, several figures including France's current Foreign Minister Alain Juppe were convicted in connection with the case.
Mr Juppe was given a 14-month suspended sentence.
Mr Chirac is the first former French head of state to be convicted since Marshal Philippe Petain, the leader of the wartime Vichy regime, was found guilty in 1945 of collaborating with the Nazis.
"The verdict may look severe but it is worth noting that the court acted with a large measure of moderation, highlighting the personal qualities of president Chirac, how old the events in question were and the role he played in reorganising how political parties are funded," lawyer Georges Kiijman said.
Jerome Karsenti, a lawyer for an anti-corruption association that sought a conviction, said Thursday's ruling was "historic and exemplary."