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Chirac to face corruption trial in absentia

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Chirac to face corruption trial in absentia
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Former French president Jacques Chirac will be tried on corruption charges in his absence, because his memory is too frail.

A court in Paris accepted a medical report submitted by his lawyers saying he was unfit to be questioned about events decades ago, but ruled the trial will go ahead anyway.

The 78-year-old is accused of embezzling public money to fund his political party by creating imaginary employees in Paris Town Hall during his marathon stint as mayor from 1977 and 1995.

Chirac has always denied the charges and has repeatedly said he wants to stand trial.

One of his legal team, Georges Kiejman said “He can obviously talk about very general things, raising major problems that are often interesting. But he can not concentrate on specific points. These specific points are at the heart of the case.”

Prosecuting lawyer Jérôme Karsenti said “We believe he used all the trappings of power for his personal gain. We would have liked to put questions to him, we would have liked him not to have sidestepped the issues, and we would have liked some answers.”

Chirac’s wife claims he has memory problems that are probably linked to a minor stroke he suffered several years ago. He is one of 10 co-defendants facing the corruption charges.