French Ex-President Chirac Faces Corruption Charges

Former French President Jacques Chirac is facing charges that he misused government funds to benefit his political party, making him the first ex-head of state of the country to be indicted of a criminal offense since Marshal Philippe Petain was prosecuted in 1945.

The trial against Chirac and his co-defendants started on Monday, but was immediately suspended following an appeal from one of the co-accused in the embezzling case. Chirac, who did not appear in court on Monday, is accused of diverting public funds to further his political career between 1977 and 1955 when he served as mayor of Paris. The charges against Chirac were first leveled against him some 11 years ago. According to the charges, Chirac allegedly employed “ghost workers” to enable him to divert funds to his political party.

The case is pushing through despite a compromise reached between Chirac, 78, and the city of Paris. Chirac, who remains one of France’s most popular politicians, had previously agreed to pay the city government 500,000 euros, while his party, the UMP, pledged an additional 1.7 million euros, according to Reuters.