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French ex-president Chirac goes on trial

By the CNN Wire Staff
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French ex-president Chirac goes on trial
  • Jacques Chirac is accused of embezzling public money to pay employees of his political party
  • The charges relate to his time as mayor of Paris, before he became president
  • He denies the charges

Paris (CNN) -- Former French President Jacques Chirac goes on trial Monday for embezzling money from the city of Paris when he was mayor, along with nine other people.

Chirac, 78, is accused of using public money to pay people to work for his political party, the RPR.

Chirac was mayor of Paris from 1977 to 1995, the year he became president.

He allegedly used seven city employees -- who were hired by the city of Paris in the early 1990s and were on the city payroll -- to work for his center-right political party. The RPR party no longer exists.

Former French Prime Minister Alain Juppe was sentenced in December 2004 for his role in the affair, but Chirac benefited from presidential immunity at the time. After Chirac left office in May 2007, he made it known he was available to answer any questions on the matter.

2003: Talking with Jacques Chirac
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  • Jacques Chirac

Chirac could face a ten-year sentence and a fine of 75,000 euros (about $100,000) if found guilty of using the employees to work for his party.

The former president denies the accusations.

The city of Paris dropped a civil suit against Chirac after he and his party paid back about $3 million.

Chirac is not expected to appear in court until Tuesday.

He left office with low approval ratings, but his popularity has bounced back in recent years.

CNN's Saskya Vandoorne and Jim Bittermann contributed to this report.