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Paris Accepts Millions to Drop Chirac Case


The Paris city council has agreed to drop its graft case against former French President Jacques Chirac, in exchange for nearly $3 million to cover losses allegedly sustained by the city in a party finance scandal while he was mayor.

Mr. Chirac is facing a trial on charges of embezzlement and breach of trust during his 1977-1995 tenure as mayor of the capital.

Monday's council vote does not by itself stop the pending corruption trial. But analysts say it boosts Mr. Chirac's chances of escaping conviction.

Mr. Chirac was ordered last year to stand trial for allegedly using city funds to pay aides who were working for his conservative political party. He was immune from prosecution while president from 1995 to 2007.

The case marks the first time that a former leader in modern-day France has been forced to stand trial.

The payback deal accepted Monday amounts to the salaries of 21 people hired by city hall.

The city had been a civil party in the state's criminal case against Mr. Chirac.

If convicted in the criminal trial, he could face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of more than $150,000. A French judge is expected to set a criminal trial date October 1.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.

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