France’s former president Jacques Chirac says he won’t appeal his corruption conviction.
Still maintaining his innocence, the 79-year-old issued a statement declaring he no longer has the strength needed to fight for ‘the truth.’
Chirac’s doctors say he has neurological problems and he was not in court as a judge in Paris handed down a two year suspended jail term.
On a trip to Brazil, France’s Prime Minister Francois Fillon, a fellow conservative, said he does not usually comment on legal rulings.
However, he said: “I simply think this one has really come too late, 20 years after the events. As far as I am concerned, this will not alter the personal relationship that exists between Jacques Chirac and the French people.”
Chirac benefited from immunity from prosecution while head of state. France’s opposition Socialists, gearing up for next year’s presidential election, want that rule changed.
“Justice has been done, and it had to be done,” said French Socialist presidential candidate Francois Hollande. “It is true that this verdict is severe. It is both judicial and moral and it strikes at the man. So I spare a thought for him, even though justice has to be done.”
Chirac was tried on charges of diverting finances into phantom jobs for political allies in the 1990s when he was Mayor of Paris. He is France’s first head of state to be convicted of a crime since the end of World War Two.