5 Sep 2011

Former president Chirac due to go to trial Monday

9:45 pm on 5 September 2011

The former French president, Jacques Chirac, is due to go on trial on Monday on charges of illegal party funding during his time as mayor of Paris.

It will be the first time since the Second World War that a former French head of state has stood trial.

The charges relate to the period from 1977 to 1995, when as mayor of Paris, Mr Chirac is accused on two counts of paying members of his Rally for the Republic (RPR) party for municipal jobs that did not exist. He denies the charges.

Despite persistent rumours of wrongdoing, Mr Chirac was immune from prosecution while he was president from 1995 to 2007.

After years of legal wrangling, he and nine other defendants finally went on trial in March this year but was delayed by a defence challenge.

The BBC reports there are again doubts whether the trial can go ahead as planned after a medical report found that Mr Chirac, 78, is suffering memory lapses.