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Chirac corruption trial begins in Paris

The corruption and embezzlement trial of Jacques Chirac is underway in Paris, in what is a precedent-setting prosecution of a former president of France.

French president Jacques Chirac poses after recording a television address from the presidential Elysee Palace in Paris, Sunday, March 11, 2007

Chirac's on trial for embezzling public funds in the early 1990s

The trial of former French President Jacques Chirac began before a packed courtroom in central Paris Monday as the court heard embezzlement charges against him dating back to the 1990s.

The 78-year-old Chirac was not in attendance on the opening day of the trial but is expected at the second day of proceedings on Tuesday.

The court will examine charges that Chirac misused public funds to pay people working for his political party while he served as the mayor of Paris.

Ghost jobs

Chirac allegedly gave fake jobs to seven members of his party, putting them on the city payroll, and created 21 other jobs for which he is accused of embezzlement and betrayal of the public trust.

He was mayor of Paris between 1977 and 1995. He then led the nation as president between 1995 and 2007, during which time he was immune from prosecution.

Nine others are co-defendants in the case, which has already seen the current foreign minister, Alain Juppe, convicted.

If convicted, Chirac could face up to ten years in prison and a fine of 150,000 euros ($210,000).

A successful prosecution is considered unlikely, however. Lawyers for the defense are seeking to derail the trial on procedural matters and state prosecutors have called for the case to be dismissed.

Author: Stuart Tiffen (dpa, AFP)
Editor: Jennifer Abramsohn

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