PARIS — France's top court ruled on Friday that a trial of former President Jacques Chirac for the misuse of public funds must go ahead, rejecting an earlier move to drop the case.
The long-awaited trial of Chirac and nine co-defendants marks the first time a former French head of state has been tried since 1945, when Marshall Philippe Petain was convicted of treason for collaborating with the Nazis during World War Two.
The trial, which only opened after 11 years of legal wrangling, was postponed in March so that France's Court of Appeals could consider a complaint from a co-defendant that some of the alleged offences were to old to be tried under a statute of limitations.
The delay triggered an outcry from anti-graft campaigners who feared Chirac would get special treatment as a former president.
The 78-year-old, who ruled France for 12 years until 2007, is accused of using public money to pay for phantom jobs for political cronies while he was mayor of Paris between 1977 and 1995.
A Paris court is now to decide on June 20 when the trial should resume, with a date in September considered as likely.
Chirac, who remains one of France's most popular politicians, enjoyed immunity from prosecution during his two terms as president.
If found guilty, Chirac could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison and could be ordered to pay 150,000 euros ($215,000) in fines. However, a suspended sentence is considered more likely in the event of a conviction.
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