Chirac’s lawyers to seek postponement of fraud trial on grounds of Alzheimer’s

Monday, January 31, 2011

PARIS - Lawyers representing former French president Jacques Chirac have claimed that may have Alzheimer’s disease, and therefore, may not be in a position to face a corruption trial next month.

The Independent quoted the Paris-based newspaper Journal du Dimanche, as saying on Sunday that defence lawyers are expected to use a procedural hearing Monday to seek a postponement of their client’s trial in connection with a case that allegedly involved Chirac embezzling Paris taxpayers’ money to fund his political career in the early 1990s.

The 78-year-old former president’s health is a matter of concern to his friends and former colleagues, and they have requested that he be spared a three-week ordeal starting from March 7 in the Paris court-room where Queen Marie-Antoinette was arraigned in 1793.

The Journal du Dimanche devoted its first three pages yesterday to a report headed: “Jacques Chirac faces his last battle”. everal unnamed close friends of Mr Chirac were quoted as saying that he was “declining” and a “shadow of the great Chirac I knew”.

Mr Chirac’s wife, Bernadette, was said by one friend to “have used the word Alzheimer’s in my presence”.

Alain Minc, a political essayist and close adviser to President Nicolas Sarkozy, accused the newspaper of an “ethical transgression” for talking in such detail about the health of a private person, against the letter and spirit of the French law which protects private life.

Other commentators suggested that the Chirac clan had clearly co-operated with the articles as part of a concerted campaign to have the trial delayed indefinitely.

Chirac, president from 1995 to 2007, appeared in public in Orleans last week at the opening of a museum dedicated to French Jewish children murdered in the Holocaust.

He limped and appeared tired but also greeted children and old friends, warmly.

He faces two separate charges that, while mayor of Paris, he used city taxpayers’ funds to help finance his centre-right political party.

The accusations, although seemingly trivial in themselves, form part of a much wider alleged network of illegal funding of the now defunct Rassemblement pour la Republique in the 1980s and 1990s. (ANI)

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