Chirac questioned over party funding scam

19th July 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, July 19, 2007 (AFP) - Former French president Jacques Chirac was questioned Thursday by a judge looking into a party funding scam during his time as mayor of Paris, judicial officials said.

PARIS, July 19, 2007 (AFP) - Former French president Jacques Chirac was questioned Thursday by a judge looking into a party funding scam during his time as mayor of Paris, judicial officials said.

Chirac, 74, was interviewed as an "assisted witness" -- rather than as an ordinary witness -- which means that the possibility of criminal charges against him remains open, Le Monde newspaper reported on its Internet site.

The interview took place at Chirac's office on the rue de Lille in Paris's Left Bank.

In a signed article in Le Monde, Chirac said his decision to answer the judge's questions was "perfectly normal and in keeping with the conception I have always had of the principles of the Republic."

The so-called "fake jobs" investigation is into allegations that members of Chirac's Rally for the Republic (RPR) party had their salaries paid by Paris City Hall or by private companies that won contracts there.

Chirac's close ally Alain Juppe was convicted in the affair in 2004, earning  a one-year ban from politics.

Chirac, who stepped down as president in May, was mayor of Paris from 1977 to 1995.

Last month his lawyer Jean Veil said Chirac would "answer all questions in all the cases that may concern him" in investigations relating to events before he took over as president.

However Chirac continues to claim presidential immunity in the so-called Clearstream scandal, which took place when he was president.

The Clearstream investigation is into allegations that President Nicolas Sarkozy was the victim of a smear campaign in 2004 aimed at derailing his bid for the presidency.

Former prime minister Dominique de Villepin is to be interviewed next week in the affair, amid reports that he will be placed under judical investigation -- a first step towards charges -- for libel.

Chirac has also been implicated in the Clearstream investigation.


Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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