French magistrate confirms second Chirac graft trial

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A magistrate said Monday that former French president Jacques Chirac will stand trial on a second set of corruption charges dating to the 1990s when he was mayor of Paris, an official said.

A judicial official who asked not to be named said investigating magistrate Jacques Gazeaux decided to refer Chirac, 77, to a criminal court over the case involving alleged use of public funds to pay salaries to his political allies.

The charges will likely be heard at the same time as another case on related charges linked to the alleged salaries, already set for trial at a Paris court in April 2011.

Chirac has denied having any knowledge of corrupt payments and prosecutors have called for the charges to be dismissed. His lawyers could not be contacted for comment on Monday.

Chirac 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.

As president from 1995 to 2007, he was immune from prosecution.

In September Paris city council agreed to accept a payment of more than 2.2 million euros from Chirac and his right-wing UMP party in exchange for dropping a civil suit against him.

© 2010 AFP

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