French Ex-President Chirac Convicted In Graft Trial

French Ex-President Chirac Convicted In Graft Trial
World
Like Us On Facebook
Like Us On Facebook

A judge found former French president Jacques Chirac guilty on Thursday of misusing public funds, making him the country’s first head of state to be convicted since Nazi collaborator Marshal Philippe Petain in 1945.

 

Chirac, 79, was absent from the court as the judge declared him guilty of knowingly operating a system that diverted about 1.4 million euros of Paris City Hall funds for political purposes when he was mayor of the French capital.

The judge handed down a suspended two-year jail sentence on Chirac, who was president from 1995 until 2007 and suffers from neurological problems, according to his doctors.

Lawyers who had sought a conviction said the verdict on Chirac served as a reminder to France’s ruling class that politicians could not abuse their position with impunity.

   

Chirac was tried on charges of channeling public money into phantom jobs for political cronies when he was mayor of Paris between 1977 and 1995, a time when he built a new centre-right Gaullist party that launched his bid to become president.

Chirac, excused from much of the proceedings on the grounds of a failing memory, could in theory have been sent to jail for 10 years, the maximum sentence for the charges against him.

Chirac’s lawyer, Georges Kiejman, told reporters that he would talk to his client before deciding later in the day whether to make an appeal.

“The verdict may look severe but it is worth noting that the court acted with a large measure of moderation, highlighting the personal qualities of president Chirac, how old the events in question were and the role he played in reorganizing how political parties are funded,” Kiijman said.

Jerome Karsenti, a lawyer for an anti-corruption association that sought a conviction, said Thursday’s ruling was “historic and exemplary.”

“We’ve seen a strong message delivered today: politicians can no longer do as they please when in charge of public administrations,” he told reporters outside the court.

The case came to a head after 13 years of wrangling over allegations that 28 of Chirac’s cronies were on the Paris payroll from 1992 to 1995 but did not work for the city.

END OF IMMUNITY

Chirac benefited from immunity from prosecution while head of state, and for some time afterwards it was unclear whether he would be hauled before a court, let alone convicted.

Paris City Hall pulled out as a plaintiff earlier this year after Chirac agreed to a compensation deal worth 2.2 million euros, with 500,000 euros to be paid by himself and the rest by France’s ruling UMP party on his behalf.

The public prosecution service, which answers to the justice ministry, had recommended an acquittal, and many people believed

the verdict read out by judge Dominique Pauthe would follow that advice.

Seven of nine other people tried along with Chirac were also found guilty, among them Jean de Gaulle, grandson of President Charles de Gaulle, and Marc Blondel, a former trade union leader famous for his love of giant cigars.

Less than five months before a presidential election, the opposition Socialist Party said the verdict vindicated its call for repeal of the rule giving heads of state judicial immunity while they are in office.

Close to tears at the courthouse, Chirac’s adopted daughter Anh Dao Traxel said the verdict was overly harsh, adding: “For the family, this brings great sorrow.”

Thierry Leveque and Brian Love | Reuters

Share Tweet
React
Like Us On Facebook
Like Us On Facebook

Preston Waters

Preston Waters is a thinker. He's not your traditional philosophical persona, however, as he leaves no topic untouched. Covering all the bases, from business to women, Preston Waters is the ultimate man's man for Gen-Y.

More In World

World Gigi Engle

Breaking: A Doctor Has Tested Positive For Ebola In NYC

A Doctors Without Borders physician who returned 10 days ago from a humanitarian trip to Guinea has been diagnosed with the deadly Ebola virus. This makes him the first confirmed case in New York City. The doctor, Craig Spencer, 33, is employed at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, but has been in isolation at […]

World Sean Levinson

Grandma Caught Selling Up To 100 Pounds Of Weed To Support Grandkids

A 65-year-old Sarver, PA, grandmother pleaded guilty to selling around 100 pounds of marijuana over the past five years. Authorities first charged Candace Kelly of Butler County in October of 2013 when they discovered 64 pounds of hydroponically grown marijuana and approximately $393,000 in cash. Those charges were dropped, however, because the family said that police […]

World Sean Levinson

Artist Creates A Sculpture Of The Madonna That Smells Like Vagina (Video)

Peter De Cupere is known as an olfactory artist because his projects produce certain smells from symbolic images. His newest creation is a statue of the Madonna that emits the scent of female genitalia. Called The Deflowering, the biblical figure is made out of “frozen holy water,” according to the Huffington Post. Inside the statue is […]

Also On Elite

Politics

Colorado Governor Says Legalizing Marijuana Was A ‘Reckless’ Decision For The State

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper called the state’s decision to legalize recreational marijuana “reckless” during a debate on Monday with his gubernatorial opponent. According to the Huffington Post, the Democrat made the comment when asked about other state governors who are debating legalizing recreational marijuana as well. Hickenlooper said, To a certain extent you could say it was […]

Women

Ladies, Here’s What Really Happens When You Use Birth Control To Skip Your Period

After an excruciating month apart, your long-distance boyfriend is finally visiting you. You bought a sheer, sexy lingerie set and a new perfume from Victoria’s Secret, and you’re ready to tackle him when he gets off the airplane. Your dream vacation in Punta Cana with all of your closest friends has, at last, arrived. Carrying […]

World

Miracle Baby The Size Of An iPhone Fights For Her Life

A baby born just the size of an iPhone is struggling to stay alive. Little Adilynn Renee weighs just four pounds, one for every month since she was born. The little girl, one of the smallest ever born to North Carolina’s Forsyth Medical Center, has already fought a blood infection and two instances of pneumonia. […]

World

150 Baby Sea Turtles Swimming For The First Time Is The Most Adorable Thing Ever (Video)

Over the summer, the documentary “Blackfish” was released. The documentary mostly focused on the problem with keeping large aquatic animals, like orca whales, in captivity for entertainment. The film opened people’s eyes to the whales’ plight, but the truth is, they’re not the only ones suffering. Consider, for instance, the sea turtle. It’s estimated that […]

Envision

Talented Scrap Metal Artist Can Make Pretty Much Anything Out Of Metal (Photos)

Next time you happen to be in Thailand, you might want to visit Ban Hun Lek, a metal workshop in the Ang Thong Province. The metal workshop is known for crafting together some of the coolest looking scrap metal sculptures. When the team isn’t constructing different types of decorative animal sculptures and monuments, they’re working […]