Paris city hall accepts millions to drop Chirac graft case

27th September 2010, Comments 0 comments

Paris city council on Monday agreed to accept a payment of over 2.2 million euros from France's former president Jacques Chirac and his right-wing UMP party in exchange for dropping a graft case against him.

The council voted by 147 to 13 with one abstention to accept the payment to cover costs in return for dropping its civil suit, although Chirac's corruption trial will still go ahead later this year or in 2011.

The move does however boost Chirac's chances of escaping conviction on charges of misuse of public funds and breach of trust because state prosecutors are widely expected to call for the former president to be acquitted.

Chirac, 77, is one of France's most popular political figures despite being accused of using the city payroll to pay salaries to aides who were actually working for his party when he was mayor of Paris from 1977 to 1995.

The sum, of which Chirac is to pay 550,000 euros and the UMP of current President Nicolas Sarkozy the rest, covers salaries, interest and lawyers' fees linked to the case.

As president from 1995 to 2007, Chirac was immune from prosecution, but he is now due to go on trial, with a court to decide on a date on Friday.

Former prime minister Alain Juppe was convicted in 2004 of corruption while he was Chirac's financial director at the city hall.

© 2010 AFP

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