Dec. 15 - Former French President Jacques Chirac is found guilty of embezzlement while mayor of Paris. Simon Hanna reports.
This is how most people remember Jacque Chirac - as president of France from 1995 - 2007. But it's his previous role in public office, as mayor of Paris from 1977 until 1995 that has come in to the spotlight in France. On Thursday, the former president was found guilty of abuse of power and embezzlement during that period. The magistrates court handed him a suspended two year jail sentence. Chirac, now 79, was not present for the ruling due to ill health. His lawyer said the verdict would not detract from his image in France. (SOUNDBITE) (French) FORMER PRESIDENT JACQUES CHIRAC'S LAWYER, GEORGES KIEJMAN: "I think we must be given time to read the verdict and to think about it and he will tell us whether he decides to appeal. But I don't think the verdict alters the way Jacques Chirac, or his actions as president of France for 12 years, are perceived by the people of France." A civil plaintiff in the case said the ruling is a warning to other political figures. (SOUNDBITE) (French) LAWYER FOR CIVIL PLAINTIFF ASSOCIATION JEROME KARSENTI: "Above all this sends a strong message to politicians and to all those in positions of power, who think they could behave in the same way, with impunity. It's an historical decision, even though he has been found guilty while no longer president, he was nonetheless the president of France." Chirac's conviction is the first against a head of state since Marshall Philippe Petain was found guilty of collaborating with the Nazis in 1945. Simon Hanna, Reuters.