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Ex-French president trial opens in absentia

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Former French President Jacques Chirac

The trial of former French President Jacques Chirac has opened in his absence in Paris on charges of misusing public funds during his time as mayor of the city.

Chirac’s lawyers had last week submitted a medical report to the court, explaining that the 78-year-old is in a state of vulnerability that makes him unable to answer questions about his past, the Associated Press reported on Monday.

The lawyers had also asked the court on behalf of Chirac to proceed despite his absence.

The judge faces several options of choosing to suspend the trial until further medical expertise has been provided, proceeding without the defendant, or dismissing the case.

Chirac has been accused of misusing public funds, abuse of trust and incurring illegal gains in a period between 1992 and 1995 when he was the mayor of Paris.

If found guilty, he could face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of EUR 150,000 (USD 213,400), though analysts say a suspended sentence is more likely in practice.


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