Seven in 10 French back Chirac trial

2nd November 2009, Comments 0 comments

More than seven in 10 French people believe it is right that former president Jacques Chirac should stand trial for corruption charges linked to his years as Paris mayor, a poll showed Sunday.

PARIS - A French judge has ordered Chirac, 76, to be tried on accusations that he awarded political allies bogus jobs as city hall "ghost workers" while he was mayor of Paris from 1977 to 1995.

Seventy-two percent of respondents to the BVA poll for M6 television said that the "courts should prosecute him just like any other citizen".

Even among sympathisers of Chirac's right-wing camp, 62 percent believed he should be tried, against 37 percent who disagreed.

One quarter -- 26 percent -- believed the courts should "leave him alone" while two percent voiced no opinion, according to the telephone poll of 967 people carried out on October 30 and 31.

Chirac, who ranks as France's most popular politician two-and-half years after he left office, faces a maximum of three to 10 years in jail for "abuse of trust" and "misuse of public funds."

As head of state between 1995 and 2007 he enjoyed immunity from prosecution, but since stepping down he has joined several of his allies and former aides in being placed under formal judicial investigation.

The former president's office has said he was "calm and determined" to prove his innocence.

Chirac returned late Saturday from holiday in Morocco, and is due this week to release volume one of his political memoirs, retracing his steps from his political debut to his election as head of state in 1995.


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