Chirac to be questioned in party funding probe

26th June 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, June 26, 2007 (AFP) - Former French president Jacques Chirac will be questioned in the coming weeks by judges looking into an illegal party funding scam dating from his time as mayor of Paris, his lawyer confirmed Tuesday.

PARIS, June 26, 2007 (AFP) - Former French president Jacques Chirac will be questioned in the coming weeks by judges looking into an illegal party funding scam dating from his time as mayor of Paris, his lawyer confirmed Tuesday.

According to Jean Veil, Chirac will be interviewed as an "assisted witness" -- rather than as an ordinary witness -- which means that the possibility of criminal charges against him remains open.

"For the period up to 1995 when he was elected president he is a citizen like any other, and he will answer all questions in all the cases that may concern him," Veil told Europe 1 radio.

Veil did not give a date for the summons but said it would be before September 15.

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.

The former president -- who was Paris mayor from 1977 to 1995 -- faces possible questioning in three other cases relating to his time there.

However Chirac has said he will refuse to answer summonses from judges looking into the so-called Clearstream affair, which took place when he was president.

The Clearstream investigation is into concocted allegations that senior politicians and business figures -- including Chirac's successor Nicolas Sarkozy -- received illegal commissions out of a major arms sale to Taiwan.

Judges in charge of the affair have indicated they want to interview Chirac over claims he ordered a secret intelligence probe in 2004 to see if the allegations against Sarkozy were true.

But Chirac issued a statement on Friday saying that as the events took place while he was in office, he remained protected by presidential immunity.

For the same reason Chirac will refuse to answer questions over the mysterious death of a French judge in Djibouti in 1995, Veil said.

Bernard Borrel's widow Elisabeth believes he was murdered by Djibouti agents and has accused Chirac of helping the President Ismael Omar Guelleh cover up the affair.


Copyright AFP

SUbject: French news

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