France's Chirac placed under formal probe for corruption

Chirac's office said in a statement he was questioned by an examining magistrate and was formally put under investigation -- one step short of pressing charges.

France's Chirac placed under formal probe for corruption

France's former president, Jacques Chirac, was placed under official examination in a corruption probe on Friday, adding to his legal woes just two months after he was ordered to stand trial in a separate graft case.

Chirac's office said in a statement he was questioned by an examining magistrate and was formally put under investigation -- one step short of pressing charges.The former president, who left office in 2007, denied any wrongdoing.

The probe centres on allegations that during his time as mayor of Paris in the early 1990s, Chirac put seven political allies on the payroll of city hall for non-existent jobs.

"President Chirac reiterates that there was no (fictive jobs) 'system', at the Paris mayor's office," his office said.

Investigations into numerous allegations of irregularities during his 18-year stint as Paris mayor were put on hold when he was president of France because under the French constitution he enjoyed immunity from prosecution.

But magistrates dusted off all the old dossiers after Chirac stood down as president and are working through the backlog.

In October, a magistrate ordered that Chirac, 77, should stand trial on embezzlement charges over 21 fictive jobs he is alledged to have created as favours to people who were politically useful to him.

Chirac's office said that in both these cases, the former French leader wanted the legal procedures to move ahead as fast as possible "so that it can be finally shown that he had nothing to be reproached with".

No former French president has been prosecuted for graft, and the planned trial will be a public humiliation for a man who stood at the heart of French politics for four decades. The prospect of a second trial only adds to the embarrassment.

Chirac's allies are swift to point out that none of the cases involve allegations of personal enrichment.



Reuters

Last Mod: 18 Aralık 2009, 15:12
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