Jacques Chirac corruption trial delayed for three months

Jacques Chirac's corruption trial, which has taken more than 15 years to reach court, has been suspended until June, on the day the former French president was due to appear in court.

The trial, which opened on Monday, centres on Mr Chirac's time as mayor of Paris from 1977 to 1995, before he became president.

Exceptionally, two different investigations were combined into one trial, both focusing on accusations that he misappropriated city money for his conservative political party. Mr Chirac has repeatedly denied wrongdoing.

A lawyer for one of Chirac's co-defendants argued that a key complaint in one case was made too long ago to merit a trial today, and that it was not constitutional to combine the two cases into a single trial.

Judge Dominique Pauthe ruled in response that the trial is suspended until about June 20, and asked France's highest court, the Court of Cassation to consider the protest.

The Court of Cassation has the option of sending the motion to the Constitutional Council, which judges the constitutionality of French laws. Mr Chirac is a member.

"Jacques Chirac is once again going to escape the justice system," said Jerome Karsenti, lawyer for an anti-corruption association that was perhaps the leading civil party to the case.

Chirac himself was not present in court on Tuesday.

(Published by The Telegraph - March 8, 2011)

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