France’s ex-president Chirac to be tried for fraud

October 30th, 2009 - 6:52 pm ICT by IANS  

Paris, Oct 30 (DPA) Former French president Jacques Chirac will be tried for abuse of public funds in an affair dating from 1983 to 1995, when he was mayor of Paris, French media reported Friday.
The 76-year-old Chirac is charged with authorising the hiring of 21 people for jobs at the Paris City Hall that they did not carry out. Instead, their salaries were allegedly used to fill the coffers of Chirac’s former party, the Rally for the Republic (RPR).

In his first comment, Chirac said he was “serene” and would work to prove to the court that not one of the 21 jobs in question was fictitious.

In November 2007, after being placed under judicial investigation in the affair, Chirac published an opinion piece in the daily Le Monde in which he said that he had “authorised” the hiring of the project assistants and that they were “legitimate.”

According to investigators, a total of 43 allegedly fictitious jobs, worth some 4.5 million euros ($6.68 million), were created at the Paris City Hall under Chirac and his successor, Jean Tiberi.

Chirac, who was president from 1995 to 2007, is the first former French head of state to be put on trial.

During his two terms at the Elysee Palace, Chirac was protected from judicial prosecution by the French constitution, which grants a sitting president immunity against virtually all charges except high treason.

In deciding that Chirac be tried, investigating magistrate Xaviere Simeoni ignored the recommendation of the Paris public prosecutor, who had argued that the case against him be dismissed.

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