France’s former president Jacques Chirac has been ordered to stand trial on embezzlement charges.
The unprecedented move against an ex-French head of state comes two years after Chirac lost his immunity from prosecution on leaving office. The long-running case concerns a party-financing scandal at Paris City Hall where Chirac was mayor from 1977 to 1995. It is claimed contracts were awarded for non-existent jobs as favours to people who were politically useful to Chirac. Now aged 76, he denies any wrongdoing and the Paris public prosecutor has previously said there was no case against him. While Chirac has never found himself in the dock before, a number of his former allies and associates have been convicted of corruption. Those charged in this case include Jean de Gaulle, grandson of French wartime hero and president Charles de Gaulle. A trial would be a public humiliation for Chirac who has gained popularity in retirement, writing his memoirs and launching a charitable foundation.