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Chirac too ill to attend corruption trial: lawyers

Former French president Jacques Chirac [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], 78, and his legal team filed documents with the 11th Criminal Court of Paris on Friday claiming Chirac is too ill to face his corruption trial [press release in Le Monde, in French], just three days before the trial was slated to continue after being delayed in March [JURIST report]. Chirac is being tried for allegedly misusing funds during his time as Paris mayor in 1990. Chirac's lawyers filed an extensive neurological report with the court amid unconfirmed public reports [Journal du Dimanch report, in French] that he is suffering from Alzheimer's disease [MedLine backgrounder]. The lawyers' report did diagnose Chirac with anosognosia, a mental disorder where one does not acknowledge one's illness due to brain damage often caused by a stroke. Anticor [advocacy website, in French], an anti-corruption organization, demanded that Chirac face trial [press release, in French]. Judge Dominique Pauthe will rule on Chirac's health when the trial begins on Monday.

The French Court of Cassation [official website, in French], the country's highest appeals court, ruled in May that the corruption trial against Chirac could continue, rejecting a constitutional challenge [JURIST report] brought by one of his co-defendants. Last September, the Paris city council accepted a settlement deal [JURIST report] in which the former president agreed to pay USD $741,000 in compensation for the money paid out for false jobs. In exchange, the city agreed to drop out of the corruption suit. Chirac stated that the settlement was not an admission of guilt. A French judge placed Chirac under preliminary investigation [JURIST report] in December 2009. Chirac's trial on corruption charges marks the first time [JURIST comment] a former president will have to answer to charges against him in a court of law. The trial is a combination of two separate corruption-related cases, in which Chirac allegedly financed the Rally for the Republic (RPR), now renamed as the Union for a Popular Movement [party website, in French], by illegally establishing fake city positions between 1977 and 1995 for party members to collect salaries totaling several million dollars.

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