A French newspaper reported that leading presidential candidate Nicolas Sarkozy has cut a deal with outgoing leader Jacques Chirac to protect him from prosecution once his judicial immunity runs out next month.
Sarkozy's office and the men's political party, the UMP, declined immediate comment on the report in Le Canard Enchaine, which hit newsstands on Wednesday.
The satirical weekly, which is also known for its investigative reporting, alleged that Chirac's support for Sarkozy in the election was offered in exchange for Sarkozy pledging to sponsor a bill that would spare Chirac from prosecution.
Chirac has been protected by presidential immunity during his 12 years in power. Once he leaves office, long-dormant investigations of scandals in his political past could be revived. The most threatening one is a fake jobs affair at his former political party.