9 Mar 2011

Chirac corruption trial halted

8:38 am on 9 March 2011

A Paris court has suspended the corruption trial of France's former president Jacques Chirac in response to a legal challenge.

A lawyer for one of the nine other defendants had argued it was unconstitutional to merge two cases from when Mr Chirac was mayor of Paris, the BBC reports.

Judge Dominique Pauthe said both cases would resume on 20 June.

Mr Chirac denies paying party cronies between 1977 and 1995 for city hall jobs that did not exist.

He is the first French former head of state to face criminal charges since Marshal Petain was convicted of treason after World War II.

The separate cases both involve allegations that people were employed on the Paris mayor's payroll while working instead for Mr Chirac's RPR party.

One case, brought by a Paris magistrate, involves charges of embezzlement and breach of trust over the employment of 21 people.

The other case for which the ex-president is charged with conflict of interest, involves seven jobs, and has been brought by an investigating judge in Nanterre.

Nine other people will be on trial, including Mr Chirac's former chief of staff Remy Chardon, 61, whose lawyer is aiming to have the case adjourned on the grounds that bringing the two cases together is unconstitutional.