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Paris Court Convicts 38 on Political Corruption Charges

A French court has convicted 38 people of corruption in a political financing scandal while President Jacques Chirac was mayor of Paris during a six-year period beginning in 1987.

The court handed suspended sentences and fines to business leaders and public housing officials. The proceedings follow more than a decade of investigation into the illicit funneling of kickbacks from Paris-area contractors to Mr. Chirac's conservative party, then known as the Rally for the Republic.

The court had sought Mr. Chirac's testimony in the case. But he refused to appear citing presidential immunity. The French president also denied allegations by a former associate, Jean-Claude Mery, that he was aware of the kickbacks. Mery made the allegations in an interview recorded on videotape three years before his death in 1999.

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