Tuesday 16 January 2018

Chirac gets two-year suspended sentence for corruption

Jean Dupries in Paris

Former French president Jacques Chirac has been given a two-year suspended jail sentence for embezzling public funds.

Anti-corruption police, investigating corruption in French politics, were jubilant at the conviction of Mr Chirac (79), a world famous diplomat and pillar of France's ruling establishment for decades.

He is the first former French head of state to face prosecution since the World War Two era.

But the former leader did not take part in the trial, after doctors determined that he suffers severe memory lapses.

The Paris court said yesterday it had found Chirac guilty in two related cases involving fake jobs created at the RPR party, which he led during his 1977-1995 tenure as Paris mayor.

Immunity

He was convicted of embezzling public funds, abuse of trust, and illegal conflict of interest.

Chirac repeatedly denied wrongdoing. It took years to get him to trial because he enjoyed immunity from prosecution during his 1995-2007 presidential tenure.

The court said it took into account his age, health and status as a former head of state when determining the light sentence.

Unusually, the prosecutor had requested that Chirac and the nine other defendants in the complex two-part case be acquitted, saying not enough evidence proved intentional corruption. The court disagreed, saying his guilt results "from long-standing and reiterated practices" of illegal party financing.

Chirac's adopted daughter fought back tears as she lamented the ruling.

"The justice system has been very severe, but this is a fair and independent justice system. For the family, it's a great pain we have to accept," said Anh Dao Traxel, her voice cracking with emotion as she spoke to reporters outside the courtroom.

Chirac spokeswoman Benedicte Brissart declined to comment immediately, saying time was needed to go over the decision.

Chirac's lawyer Georges Kiejman called the ruling disappointing and said he expected a decision late yesterday on whether Chirac would appeal.

Irish Independent

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