Chirac absent as Paris graft trial opens

5th September 2011, Comments 0 comments

Jacques Chirac's embezzlement trial opened Monday with the 78-year-old former French president absent after a medical report said he suffered from memory loss and was too unwell to attend.

Chirac, the first French former head of state to be tried since World War II, insists that the case proceed but has asked for his lawyers to represent him.

Judge Dominique Pauthe was due to respond to the medical report after the trial opened. His options include dropping the case, postponing it or seeking further medical opinion.

Chirac, best known internationally for his opposition to the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, has been linked to a series of corruption scandals but was never convicted.

He stands accused of illegal party funding ahead of his successful 1995 presidency bid.

If found guilty, he faces up to 10 years in jail and a fine of 150,000 euros ($210,000) on charges that include embezzlement and breach of trust during the years he served as mayor of Paris.

© 2011 AFP

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