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Chirac too ill to attend trial, say lawyers


DENIAL: Jacques Chirac

DENIAL: Jacques Chirac

DENIAL: Jacques Chirac

Former French president Jacques Chirac isn't well enough to attend his trial on corruption charges, but the proceedings should go ahead without him, his lawyers said yesterday.

Mr Chirac's legal team told the court in a letter on Friday last that the 78-year-old "no longer has the full capacity to participate in court proceedings". As a result, they have asked the judge to allow Mr Chirac to skip court appearances.

The judge will likely rule on the request tomorrow, when the trial is set to open.

The prosecutor's office declined to comment yesterday.

Mr Chirac's wife denied rumours earlier this year that he had Alzheimer's disease, although she acknowledged he was experiencing problems that were either linked to a 2005 stroke or age.

The trial, which has been repeatedly delayed, involves two cases of fake jobs allegedly created to fund Chirac's conservative party while he was mayor of Paris from 1977 to 1995.

If convicted, he would face up to 10 years in prison and €150,000 in fines. He is the first former head of state to stand trial in France since the Second World War.

Mr Chirac, who was president from 1995 to 2007, has denied wrongdoing. His lawyers say he wants the trial to go forward, even if he cannot attend. In France, it's not unusual for defendants to ask to skip their trials for medical reasons. The lawyers included the results of a neurological exam in their request.

Sunday Independent