French judge to rule whether Chirac to attend trial

September 5, 2011 16:22

PARIS - A long-delayed trial into misuse of public funds by former French president Jacques Chirac opens on Monday, but a senior neurologist has advised the frail 78-year-old is not well enough to attending hearings.

Chirac is accused of embezzling public money to fund his political party via phantom jobs at Paris Town Hall while he was mayor between 1977 and 1995, the year he was elected head of state.Chirac will not be present at a procedural hearing on Monday afternoon that kicks off the trial and judge Dominique Pauthe will examine a medical assessment that found him mentally unfit to be questioned about events so far in the past.

The allegations have hung over Chirac since he lost his presidential immunity in 2007. After years of delays and legal obstacles, a final hurdle was lifted in June and the trial was due to go ahead even though Chirac and the ruling conservative UMP party had offered to pay money to settle the case.

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