Chirac could face 10-yr prison term if convicted for embezzlement

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Paris, Sept 22 (ANI): Jacques Chirac, the former French President, would reportedly stand trial over embezzlement charges in a Paris court early next year.

Chirac, who would be the first modern French leader to appear in the dock, is accused of paying salaries out of public money to 21 of his own right-wing RPR party aides for fictitious jobs when he was Mayor of Paris. He allegedly claimed they were City Hall employees.

If convicted he could face ten years in prison and a fine up to 120,000 pounds.

According to the Daily Mail, Chirac tried to avoid prosecution by repaying some of the money he allegedly misused between 1992 and 1995, the last three years of his 18-year term as Paris mayor.

He reportedly paid 450,000 pounds compensation to the current socialist mayor, Bertrand Delanoe. That would, however, help him to do away only with the civil case against him while the showcase criminal trial would still go ahead, confirmed Jean Veil, Chirac's lawyer.

Veil also said the former president had taken out a personal bank loan to settle the compensation claim, but the deal struck with the City of Paris did not amount to an admission of guilt, the paper reports.

"Jacques Chirac will appear before his judges. We have settled the civil matter of the city's compensation claim, and now only the criminal charges remain to be dealt with," he added.

Chirac, who denied the charges against him all along, has become a much-loved presidential retiree despite persistent corruption allegations. His recent memoirs were a hit and his political allies are reportedly increasingly powerful. (ANI)

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