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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 June 2007, 12:54 GMT 13:54 UK
Chirac to face corruption inquiry
Jacques Chirac
Jacques Chirac has denied any wrongdoing
French ex-President Jacques Chirac is to face questioning over corruption allegations relating to his 18-year tenure as Paris mayor, his lawyer says.

Jean Veil said Mr Chirac would be questioned by judges as an assisted witness, meaning he could face criminal charges over a fake jobs scandal.

But he added that Mr Chirac would not face questions over two other scandals that occurred during his presidency.

Mr Veil said in those cases Mr Chirac still enjoyed presidential immunity.

Presidential mandate

Officials are investigating allegations that members of Mr Chirac's Rally for the Republic (RPR) party were illegally paid by the city of Paris when he was mayor, from 1977 to 1995.

For the period up to 1995 when he was elected president he is a citizen like any other, and he will answer all questions in all the cases that may concern him
Jean Veil
Lawyer for Jacques Chirac

Mr Chirac has denied wrongdoing.

His closest confidante - former French Prime Minister Alain Juppe - was convicted in the affair in 2004 and banned from political life for a year.

"For the period up to 1995 when he was elected president he is a citizen like any other, and he will answer all questions in all the cases that may concern him," Mr Veil told Europe 1 radio.

But he said his client would not answer questions about events that took place during his time as president, referring to two other cases in which judges want to question him.

In the so-called Clearstream affair, it is alleged that Mr Chirac ordered a secret probe into Nicolas Sarkozy over corruption claims before he succeeded him as president.

The claims suggested that a number of prominent political and business figures - including Mr Sarkozy - benefited from illegal commissions paid as part of a big arms sales contract to Taiwan.

But they have since been shown to be false.

Mr Chirac is also refusing to answer questions over the death of a French judge in Djibouti in 1995.

Investigators into the death of Judge Bernard Borrel were barred from searching Mr Chirac's Elysee Palace office in May.

Last week, Mr Chirac said he would not testify over the Clearstream case because he was still protected by presidential immunity.

Under the constitution, he could not be made to testify on things that were "done or known during his mandate and in carrying out his functions", he said.

Profile: Jacques Chirac
13 Mar 07 |  Europe

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