Chirac graft trial gives up on Juppe testimony
A French court trying French former president Jacques Chirac for alleged graft during his time as Paris mayor has renounced hearing Foreign Minister Alain Juppe's testimony as he is in Libya.
Juppe, a former prime minister who was himself convicted of involvement in the scandal in 2004 and banned from holding elected office for a year, was on Thursday on a visit to Libya with President Nicolas Sarkozy.
The Anticor anti-corruption group that is a civil party in Chirac's trial and had called for Juppe to be heard as a witness on Thursday said the minister's absence was "a demonstration of cowardice".
Chirac is accused on two counts of hiring members of his political party for non-existent municipal jobs in Paris, where he was mayor from 1977 to 1995, effectively using the civic payroll to employ his own campaign staff.
If found guilty of using public funds to illegally pay for political work he faces up to 10 years in jail and a fine of 150,000 euros ($210,000).
© 2011 AFP