Jacques Chirac corruption trial opens - Europe - World - The Independent

Jacques Chirac corruption trial opens

A long-awaited French corruption trial has opened with former President Jacques Chirac as the star defendant.









He is the first French head of state to go on trial since the country's Nazi-era leader was exiled, though he did not show up for a first day expected to be dominated by procedural issues.



Chirac, 78, is accused of embezzlement, breach of trust and conflict of interest, based on allegations linked to his time as Paris mayor - before he became president from 1995 to 2007.



A prison term for the man who famously rallied against George W Bush's invasion of Iraq is seen as highly unlikely.



But, in principle if convicted, Chirac could be jailed for up to 10 years and be fined 150,000 euro (£129,000).



Judge Dominique Pauthe opened today's trial by calling the case's 10 defendants.



When Chirac was named, lawyer Jean Veil said he would be representing the former president. The judge stumbled over Chirac's birth date before continuing the proceedings, in which he read the charges.



A last-minute protest by one of Chirac's co-defendants has come up over procedural issues, but the court is not expected to rule on that motion until at least Tuesday.



Chirac is not expected in court until Tuesday. The trial is expected to go on for a month.



Media interest in the case is high. Security teams have blocked off Chirac's access route into the courtroom to avoid photographers and TV crews.



The proceedings are taking place in the 11th Chamber at Paris' central courthouse on the Ile de la Cite island in the Seine River, not far from Notre Dame cathedral.



The chamber, now devoted to financial affairs, was where Marie Antoinette and others were tried during the French Revolution.



Investigating magistrates say Chirac masterminded a scheme to have Paris City Hall pay for work that benefited his political party while he was mayor. One allegation is that the head of a top French labour union had his bodyguard and driver improperly paid for by the city.



Chirac has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. He insists that France had no judicial rules at the time that laid out party financing and that the expenses were approved by the city council.



For years, Chirac benefited from presidential immunity to avoid legal proceedings. Some claims were suspended at the time, allowing the statute of limitations to invalidate many allegations against him.



The trial centres on alleged wrongdoing in only the last three years of his 18-year term as mayor, largely because the allegations of hundreds of other bogus jobs before then are considered too old to warrant a trial.



His health has been in question. In January, Chirac told a French TV station he was doing "fine" and denied he was too feeble to stand trial, and his wife denied a report saying he might have Alzheimer's disease as "a lie."

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
property
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
The programme sees four specialists creating what they believe are three perfect couples, based on scientific matchmaking. The couples will not meet until they walk down the aisle together
tvUK wedding show jilted
Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Sport
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams in the video of the song, which has been accused of justifying rape
music...and he had 'almost no part' in writing it
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior QA Engineer - Agile, SCRUM

£35000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior QA Engineer (Agil...

Marketing Executive - West Midlands - £28,000

£26000 - £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Digital Marketing Executive (SEO, PP...

Retail Business Analyst

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our retail client ...

Senior C++ Developer

£400 - £450 Per Annum possibly more for the right candidate: Clearwater People...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week