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Jacques Chirac found guilty of corruption

Former French President Jacques Chirac did not attend his trial for corruption charges because he claims he is suffering from memory loss. Paris city hall last year dropped its civil charges against him in return for a payment of more than €2.2m from him and the MP party.

A judge in France has declared former French president Jacques Chirac guilty in a politically fixed trial. The trial made history by producing the first conviction of a head of state since Nazi collaborator Marshal Philippe Pétain in 1945.

In the absence of the 79-year-old, who governed from 1995 until 2007, a judge declared Chirac guilty of misuse of public funds. He was handed a two-year suspended sentence.

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

He denied all the charges, but the case is only one of many corruption scandals to have dogged him in a long public career.

Mr Chirac, who left office in 2007, was accused of using public funds to pay people working for his party ahead of his successful 1995 presidency bid.

He enjoyed immunity from prosecution as president from 1995 to 2007, but the case, which has already seen current Foreign Minister Alain Juppe convicted, has finally caught up with him.

Mr Chirac, who has also served two terms as prime minister and 18 years as mayor of Paris, paid more than €500,000 from his own pocket but did not acknowledge any wrongdoing.

Source: Several News agencies.