A French court decided Thursday to combine two separate cases involving misuse of public funds brought against former president Jacques Chirac [official profile, in French; JURIST news archive], leaving him to face only one trial this spring. It is said that France's Court of Cassation [official website, in French] ordered the Paris court to consolidate the two cases [Fance 24 report] into one trial. Chirac is accused of financing the Rally for the Republic (RPR), now renamed the Union for a Popular Movement [party website, in French], while mayor of Paris by illegally establishing fake city positions for party members to collect salaries totaling several million dollars. In the other case, he is charged with illegal conflict of interest concerning jobs for people in his conservative party. Chirac has denied any foul play. His trial is set to begin March 7, and, if convicted, Chirac faces up to 10 years in prison and fines that could exceed USD $200,000.
In September, the Paris city council voted to accept a deal in which Chirac will pay the city USD $741,000 in compensation for money he allegedly paid to supporters for whom he created false jobs. In exchange for the compensation, the city agreed to drop out of a corruption suit [JURIST report] against Chirac. Chirac said the payment was not an admission of guilt. Last December, a French judge placed Chirac under preliminary investigation [JURIST report]. Chirac was ordered to stand trial [JURIST report] on related charges of embezzlement and misuse of public funds last October. The charges were originally filed in 2007 [JURIST report] after Chirac's presidency ended and he no longer had judicial immunity.