Ex-French President Chirac Faces March Trial on Fake Job Claims

Former French President Jacques Chirac will be tried in March on charges he gave fictitious City Hall jobs to supporters during his term as mayor of Paris.

Judge Dominique Pauthe scheduled the trial to start March 7 and conclude April 8 at a hearing in Paris today, postponing it from a planned November start date to allow a similar probe in nearby Nanterre to be completed and the two cases combined. Both the defense and prosecution supported the delay.

“For the administration of sound justice, it is necessary that these two affairs be taken together,” said Jean Veil, a lawyer for Chirac.

Chirac will be the first French president to stand trial. The 77-year-old denies allegations that, while serving as mayor, he awarded 21 City Hall job contracts to people who worked for his Rally for the Republic political party. Excluding a two-year hiatus when he was prime minister, Chirac led Paris from 1977 to 1995. He was elected president that year, giving him immunity from prosecution until he left office in 2007.

The City of Paris officially withdrew its claim against Chirac at today’s hearing as part of a settlement agreement approved this week. Chirac and RPR’s successor, the Union for a Popular Movement, will pay 2.2 million euros ($3 million) to the city, with Chirac putting in 550,000 euros of that amount. The settlement wasn’t an admission of guilt, said Veil.

Two Parisians have filed motions with the local court to appear as civil plaintiffs now that the city’s settlement leaves the case without a victim claimant. The Paris prosecutor opposed the investigating judge’s decision to order the trial.

Former Prime Minister Alain Juppe was convicted in 2004 for his involvement in the fake jobs affair during his time as Chirac’s deputy mayor and RPR president.

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