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Former French President Jacques Chirac is convicted of corruption

December 15, 2011 |  2:25 am

Former French President Jacques Chirac was found guilty Thursday of misusing public funds and abusing public confidence
REPORTING FROM PARIS -- Former French President Jacques Chirac was found guilty Thursday of misusing public funds and abusing public confidence after a fraud trial in Paris.

It is the first time a former French head of state has been convicted since Marshal Philippe Petain, leader of France's wartime Vichy regime, was found guilty of collaborating with the Nazis.

Chirac, who was given a two-year suspended sentence, was not in court to hear the verdict, which came three months after a trial in September. Chirac, 79, had submitted a medical report to the court declaring he was suffering from "severe" and "irreversible" neurological problems.

The charges date to his tenure as mayor of Paris in the early 1990s. Chirac, who was president from 1995 to 2007, was accused of using public money for his own political ends. The case centered on fake jobs created at City Hall to fund his 1995 presidential election campaign. The salaries for the nonexistent workers were channeled into his newly formed center-right Gaullist Party.

Chirac has always denied the charges. In a statement read to the court by one of his lawyers, he insisted he had committed "no legal or moral fault."

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-- Kim Willsher

Photo: Former French President Jacques Chirac at a news conference in Algeria in 2003. Credit: Remy de la Mauviniere / Associated Press

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