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Chirac set for corruption trial

Late legal bid could yet delay ex-president’s court date in Paris “bogus jobs” case

Former President Jacques Chirac goes on trial today accused of corruption while mayor of Paris.

Although there have been doubts about his fitness to face trial, his wife has insisted he is not suffering from Alzheimer’s and supporters have said he will appear in court tomorrow.

However, one of the other nine defendants has raised a legal argument that could see the trial postponed.

Chirac, 78, is accused of diverting public funds while mayor between 1977 and 1995 to help pay for his RPR political party. A score of people employed by the city were actually working for the RPR.

The city of Paris has pulled out of the court case after agreeing a deal last year under which Chirac and President Sarkozy’s UMP repaid €2.2 million.

Although the Paris prosecutor says there is not enough evidence to convict, the “bogus jobs” case is going ahead because two civil parties stepped in to pursue it. It comes as an opinion poll said 71 per cent of people saw no reason why the ex-president should not face trial.

It is only the third time that a former head of state has faced trial: Pétain was accused and convicted of treason in 1945 and, before him, Louis XVI was guillotined in 1793 after being found guilty of working to overthrow the constitution.

Chirac – who could face up to 10 years in prison – has been president twice, prime minister twice and was mayor of Paris for 18 years. He was immune from prosecution while president.

Photo: Eric Pouhier

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