Trial over Chirac's corruption sets to start

Updated: 2011-09-05 17:13


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PARIS - The trial to decide the reputation of former French President Jacques Chirac is set to start before Monday noon. If the presiding judge ruled against his medical report, he will become the first French president to be tried.

After 12 years as head of state, two terms as prime minister and 18 years as mayor of Paris, Chirac is dogged by a corruption-related allegation dated back to 2007 since his retirement.

Though having declared to assume his responsibility, he is widely speculated unable to stand trial and his lawyers have submitted a medical report to the court trying to excuse the 78-year-old Gaulist on health problems. The report diagnosed Chirac with "anosognosia", a brain disorder making people forget easily.

The judge will decide whether to accept this report in postponing the case or simply dropping it, or to demand a further medical analysis.

Investigating magistrates opened an inquiry into Chirac's running of the mayor's office in 1999 after receiving a complaint alleging power abuses, including graft, illegal party financing and destruction of evidence.

The charges include using the city payroll to pay salaries to aides and counsellors who were actually his partisans having no contribution to the paying jobs during his mandate of Paris mayor from 1977 to 1995. The beneficiaries were seven staff at his Gaullist RPR party, and another 21 friends and allies linked to council jobs.

If found guilty, the ex-president faces up to 10 years in jail and a fine of 150,000 euros ($106,040) on charges including embezzlement and breach of trust.

The case also involves nine other defendants. The current French foreign minister Alain Juppe, who received a suspended prison sentence in 2004 over the case, agreed to appear as a witness.