Prosecutors call for Chirac fraud case dismissal

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Prosecutors called Monday for one of two sets of corruption charges against France's former president Jacques Chirac to be dismissed.

"The prosecution finds that there is not sufficient evidence to bring into question the good faith of Mr Chirac," said the public prosecutor in the Paris suburb of Nanterre, Philippe Courroye, referring to one of the cases involving alleged use of public funds to pay salaries to Chirac's allies.

Prosecutors believe "there existed no system known to Mr Chirac aimed at secretly financing the RPR", Chirac's right-wing party that later became the UMP of current President Nicolas Sarkozy, Courroye told the court.

An investigating judge must now decide whether Chirac faces criminal charges for misuse of public funds and breach of trust.

In the other parallel case, Paris city council last month agreed to accept a payment of over 2.2 million euros (three million dollars) from Chirac and the UMP in exchange for dropping similar graft charges against him.

Chirac's corruption trial will still go ahead in early 2011 but the moves have boosted his chances of escaping conviction. Prosecutors have said they will seek a dismissal in the second case too.

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.

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

© 2010 AFP

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