Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

FOCUS

Spain's El Hierro to become world's first self-powered island

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

A bellwether for what not to do

Read more

ENCORE!

Luc Besson back in action with Scarlett Johansson in 'Lucy'

Read more

FOCUS

Israel's minorities and military service

Read more

MIDDLE EAST MATTERS

Iraq: Kurdish forces fight to protect Yazidis

Read more

DEBATE

Libya unrest: National Assembly asks for UN help to dissolve militias

Read more

DEBATE

Pakistan's Political Turmoil: Can Imran Khan's PTI Party Depose the Government? (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

Pakistan's Political Turmoil: Can Imran Khan's PTI Party Depose the Government?

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

#IceBucketChallenge and hashtag activism

Read more

  • Ex-PM Juppé announces bid for 2017 French presidential race

    Read more

  • Brutal IS beheading video sparks social media pushback

    Read more

  • A new view on Normandy landings, 70 years on

    Read more

  • Dozens killed as landslides strike Japan’s Hiroshima

    Read more

  • Deadly airstrikes hit Gaza as ceasefire with Israel collapses

    Read more

  • Tentative peace in Ferguson despite second fatal shooting

    Read more

  • Suspected Ebola cases in Austria, new drug raises hopes

    Read more

  • WWII anniversary highlights best - and worst - of Paris police

    Read more

  • Headscarf at the beach sparks French MEP’s fury

    Read more

  • Iraqi army clashes with militants in Tikrit after retaking key dam

    Read more

  • Video: Life in under-siege Donetsk

    Read more

  • Racism, riots and police violence: USA under scrutiny

    Read more

  • ‘Let it be’: Londoners sick of Abbey Road tourists

    Read more

France

Chirac protests innocence as corruption trial closes

Video by Luke BROWN

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-09-23

Former French President Jacques Chirac denied charges of misuse of public funds when he was mayor of Paris in the 1990s in a statement read by his lawyer on the closing day of his trial Friday. The judge is due to return his verdict on December 15.

REUTERS - Former French president Jacques Chirac gave an impassioned defence of his morals on Friday in a statement read out by a lawyer during his trial over the misuse of public funds when he was mayor of Paris in the 1990s.

Chirac, 78, was excused from attending due to his failing memory. He vowed to abide by the decision of the court which is widely expected to dismiss the case.

On the final day of the high-profile three-week trial, the culmination of nearly a decade of legal back-and-forth, defence lawyer Jean Veil read a statement he said was written by Chirac, who has been in poor health since a stroke a few years ago.

"I assert that I have not committed any fault -- neither legal nor moral," Veil quoted Chirac as saying.

"I want the French people to know that there are not two Chiracs ... there is only a man made from a block of flesh, blood and principles."

A few dozen spectators, attorneys and reporters listened to Chirac's words in a courtroom adorned with yellow silk walls, carved leather chairs and fleur de lys insignias, the same chamber where former Queen Marie Antoinette was condemned to the guillotine during the French Revolution.

Chirac is accused of using public money to create 28 phantom jobs for political party cronies at Paris Town Hall between 1992 and 1995 during his long stint as mayor.

The ex-president has denied the charges and even prosecutors, who owe their jobs to the executive branch, have argued for the case to be dismissed. The court is expected to render its judgment on Dec. 15.

Under French law, judges can proceed with a trial even over the objections of the prosecution.

Chirac, while denying wrongdoing, has already reimbursed the town hall 500,000 euros ($670,000), while his conservative political party has paid back 1.7 million euros ($2.3 million.)

He has denied that he attempted to pad the town hall despite accusations from a French anti-corruption group, Anticor, that the 28 jobs at issue are just a small sampling of a much wider system put in place by Chirac to increase his political influence.

Many of the allegedly phantom employees had neither a telephone nor an office at the town hall, and many could not present any evidence of work performed on behalf of the mayor.

Striking at times a poignant and humble tone, Chirac stated that he wished to defend himself "in the evening of his life" and yet told the court he would submit to the will of the law. Chirac's long political life and increasing fraility in recent years has generated widespread sympathy.

"You have the right to judge the mayor that I was," said Chirac, whose presidential immunity expired when he was succeeded by President Nicolas Sarkozy in 2007.

Despite the widespread belief that the case will end in dismissal, the trial is historic as it is the first time since World War Two that a French head of state has been tried on criminal charges in a court.

The case goes to the three-judge panel for deliberations following Friday's proceedings.

Date created : 2011-09-23

  • FRANCE

    Prosecutor seeks acquittal in Chirac trial

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    Court examines evidence of Chirac's phantom payroll

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    Chirac trial to continue in his absence, court rules

    Read more

COMMENT(S)