Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

Competing narratives in Malaysia Airlines disaster coverage

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Kenya : Police arrest 8 over Mombasa rampage

Read more

FOCUS

Overfishing and the global appetite for bluefin tuna: can Tokyo turn the tide?

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Too many graphic images from Gaza ?

Read more

FASHION

Who's next in Paris, an event with international ready-to-wear and fashion accessories collections

Read more

ENCORE!

Tunisia's Carthage International Festival turns 50

Read more

THE OBSERVERS

Muslims and Christians clean up Bangui, and violence spirals out of control in Algeria's Gardaia

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Is there such thing as 'telegenic' victims of war?

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

2014-07-22 07:21 IN THE FRENCH PRESS

Read more

  • Israel hits targets in Gaza despite diplomatic efforts for ceasefire

    Read more

  • Flight MH17 shot down ‘by mistake', US intelligence indicates

    Read more

  • France gives go-ahead to pro-Palestinian Paris rally

    Read more

  • Video: Lebanon fears fallout from regional turmoil

    Read more

  • Conflicting rulings by two US courts cast shadow on future of Obamacare

    Read more

  • US, European airlines suspend flights to Tel Aviv over Israel-Gaza conflict

    Read more

  • Widodo wins Indonesian presidential election

    Read more

  • French Jews mourn French-Israeli soldier killed in Gaza

    Read more

  • Australian veteran Rogers claims 16th stage of Tour de France

    Read more

  • PSG punished by UEFA for abuse of disabled Chelsea fans

    Read more

  • Colombia's Rodriguez signs '€80m' contract with Real Madrid

    Read more

  • Children killed in minibus crash in eastern France

    Read more

  • Hollande says French warship delivery will ‘depend on Russia’s attitude’

    Read more

  • A call for harmony in riot-hit ‘Little Jerusalem’ Paris suburb

    Read more

  • Notorious ‘VIP’ prison in Paris closed for renovations

    Read more

France

Court examines evidence of Chirac's phantom payroll

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-09-06

A French court on Tuesday began sifting through evidence that Jacques Chirac orchestrated the use of public funds to pay phantom employees while he was mayor of Paris. The former French president was absent from the proceedings on medical grounds.

AFP - French judges began Tuesday to wade into the evidence former president Jacques Chirac presided over a network of ghost workers while mayor of Paris, but the suspect himself was to stay away.

The court has ruled that 78-year-old Chirac, said by doctors to be afflicted by memory lapses, does not need to attend the second day of the hearing into murky goings on at city hall some two decades earlier.

But the case will continue without him, with the court now examining the lengthily compiled dossier of evidence against him, and the defence counsel to protest his innocence in absentia.

Chirac's history of health problems



The charge sheet alleged that he was the "inventor, author and beneficiary" of a conspiracy to use public funds to "support his political influence" and serve his own "interests and ambitions, or those of his party."

Chirac is still a hugely popular figure in France -- his approval ratings still far outstripping his embattled successor President Nicolas Sarkozy -- and his trial had been keenly anticipated as a moment of political theatre.

Now, with the former Gaullist champion staying away, much of the drama has gone, but if found guilty of using public funds to illegally pay for political work he faces up to 10 years in jail and a fine of 150,000 euros ($210,000).

Chirac is the first French former head of state to face criminal charges since the leader of the collaborationist wartime regime, Marshal Philippe Petain, was convicted of treason after World War II.

He enjoyed immunity from prosecution as president from 1995 to 2007, but the case, which has already seen current Foreign Minister Alain Juppe convicted, has finally caught up with him.

He is accused on two counts of hiring members of his political party for non-existent municipal jobs in Paris, where he was mayor from 1977 to 1995, effectively using the civic payroll to employ his own campaign staff.

Chirac, who became France's best loved politician after leaving office in 2007, avoided trial in March when lawyers for a co-defendant won a postponement by arguing certain charges were unconstitutional.

France's highest appeals court later over-ruled the challenge and he seemed doomed to appear in the dock until Saturday, when his lawyers suddenly issued a statement claiming he was medically unfit.

Abuse of trust, misappropriation of public funds and more: the charges Chirac faces


"President Chirac indicated to the court his wish to see the trial proceed to its end and his willingness to assume his responsibilities, even though he is not entirely capable of taking part in the hearings," they said.

A neurological report drawn up at his family's request concluded that Chirac was in "a vulnerable condition which will not allow him to answer questions about his past", Le Monde newspaper said on Saturday.

Chirac's adopted daughter Anh Dao Traxel told AFP the former president had not recognised her when she bumped into him in front of his Paris home in February. She described him as "an old, sick man".

Amid public sympathy for the man best known abroad for his opposition to the 2003 US-led war in Iraq, even state prosecutors have called for the case to be dismissed, and few expect him to face severe sanctions.

Paris city hall dropped a civil suit against him in return for a payment of more than 2.2 million euros from him and his right-wing UMP party.

Chirac paid more than half a million euros of this from his own pocket but did not acknowledge any wrongdoing.

Date created : 2011-09-06

  • FRANCE

    Chirac trial to continue in his absence, court rules

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    French court rules Chirac corruption trial can go ahead

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    Chirac 'joke' makes political establishment squirm

    Read more

COMMENT(S)