A French magistrate on Friday said the former president Jacques Chirac, 76, must stand trial for "misuse of public funds" and "breach of trust". The charges date back to his time as Paris mayor.
The trial would hinge on allegations that he gave 21 political allies false contracts as ghost workers in Paris city hall, the AFP news agency reported.
The former leader, who was mayor from 1977 until 1995 when he was elected president, was prepared to prove that none of the jobs were fake, his office said, Aljazeera.net reports.
It was also reported, the investigating magistrate, Xaviere Simeoni, has been probing whether people in Chirac's circle were given sham jobs as advisers and paid by Paris City Hall, even though they weren't working for it.
Chirac's office said in a statement that he was "serene, and determined to prove in court that none of the jobs still being debated were fake." A prosecutor can still appeal the decision.
Suspicions of corruption and nepotism, mostly dating from his time as mayor, dogged Chirac's presidency. Chirac was mayor of Paris from 1977-95 and president of France from 1995 until May 16, 2007.
But while judges closed in on those in Chirac's circle — his former Prime Minister Alain Juppe was convicted of party financing irregularities in 2004 — Chirac long used his presidential immunity to keep investigators at arm's length, The Associated Press reports.
News agencies also report, Chirac was been in politics for four decades and was Paris’s first mayor in over a century. He served as a representative of Correze, a rural district in central France, as prime minister, and as president of his political party, Rally for the Republic, or RPR, during his tenure as mayor. The investigation was stalled by French rules saying that a sitting president can only be tried for high treason.
The prosecution recommended in September that the case be dropped for lack of “sufficient” legal standing, Isabelle Montagne, a spokeswoman for the prosecutors’ office, said in a telephone interview earlier this week, Bloomberg reports.
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