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France

City of Paris drops fraud charges against Chirac

Video by Luke SHRAGO

Text by FRANCE 24 (with wires)

Latest update : 2010-09-27

The city council of Paris approved a two billion euro settlement to drop its case against former French president Jacques Chirac for graft during his tenure as the city’s mayor.

In a historic vote on Monday, the Paris city council agreed  to drop its graft case against former French president Jacques Chirac.

The council, led by the Socialist Party (PS),  voted 147 to 13 with one abstention in favour of an out of court settlement worth 2,218,072 euros.

In August 2010 Chirac agreed to pay the city hall 550,000 euros to drop its graft case against him, even if his corruption trial will go ahead. The rest of the more than two million euros will be paid by President Nicolas Sarkozy’s ruling UMP party.

Chirac, 77, is one of France's most popular political figures despite being accused of using the city payroll to pay salaries to aides who were actually working for his party when he was mayor of Paris from 1977 to 1995.

The deal does not close the case, but it would remove a major plaintiff.

Nine Green Party council members, who usually vote with the PS, as well as a handful of Communist Party and centrist politicians, voted against the motion, calling the move a “political mistake” and a “denial of justice”. They accuse the council-ruling Socialists of secret dealings with the UMP party.

As president from 1995 to 2007, Chirac was immune from prosecution, but he is now due to go on trial by early next year - possibly in January or February, depending on judicial procedures.

If convicted, the 77-year-old former president could be jailed for up to 10 years and fined 150,000 euros.

Former prime minister Alain Juppe was convicted in 2004 for corruption while he was Chirac's financial director at the city hall.

Date created : 2010-09-27

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