Juppe prosecutor calls for reduced sentence

28th October 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Oct 27 (AFP) - The prosecution at an appeal hearing by former French prime minister Alain Juppe, found guilty on corruption charges, called on the court Wednesday to slash the period of his disqualification from public office from 10 years to two years.

PARIS, Oct 27 (AFP) - The prosecution at an appeal hearing by former French prime minister Alain Juppe, found guilty on corruption charges, called on the court Wednesday to slash the period of his disqualification from public office from 10 years to two years.  

Juppe, a close ally of President Jacques Chirac, was found guilty in January of "taking illegal benefits" for arranging the payment of seven workers from Chirac's RPR party from Paris municipal funds between 1988 and 1995.  

He was sentenced to an 18-month suspended prison term and 10 years of ineligibility for public office. Juppe appealed the conviction.  

Chief prosecutor Daniel Renaut Wednesday called on the appeal court to maintain the 18-month sentence. But he questioned the automatic 10-year disqualification from public office imposed by a 1995 law on political parties, urging the ban on Juppe be cut to two years.  

"A prohibition of civic rights of this length would be...in this particular case singularly excessive given that in this matter there was no question of personal enrichment," Renaut told the court in Versailles, west of Paris.  

At Juppe's initial trial the prosecution called for an eight-month suspended sentence and no period of ineligibility but the court imposed a harsher sentence.  

While the conviction appeared to spell the end of his hopes of one day becoming French president as Chirac's preferred successor and forced his resignation as head of Chirac's ruling party, now renamed the UMP, Juppe, now 59, remained as mayor of the southwestern city of Bordeaux pending the appeal.  

His resignation from the leadership of the UMP opened the way for the rising star of the centre-right, Finance Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, who is to take over the party next month.  

Engaged in a bitter rivalry with Chirac, Sarkozy is expected to use the post to launch a presidential bid in 2007.  

During his January trial, Juppe used the cold, unruffled style that earned him little popularity with French voters, saying he only became aware of the illicit salaries in 1993 and then tried to put a stop to it. He also insisted that the seven party workers staffers concerned really did work for the city.  

But he was contradicted by one of his former colleagues who told the court that "everyone knew" about the system, which amounted to using municipal funds for illegal party funding.

 

© AFP

Subject: French News

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