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Chirac faces more corruption claims

Former French President Jacques Chirac has been ordered to stand trial in a second party financing case dating back to his 1977 to 1995 tenure as Paris mayor, judicial officials said.

Chirac, 77, already is set to stand trial in March in one long-standing corruption case.

An investigating judge in the Paris suburb of Nanterre has now ordered him tried for "illegal conflict of interest" in a similar case, the officials said.

The prosecutor's office could appeal that order.

Chirac has for years been dogged by a series of party financing scandals, with allegations that he set up a system to feed millions of euros of funds to his party.

While he held France's highest office from 1995 to 2007, Chirac - who founded the Rally for the Republic party, the precursor to President Nicolas Sarkozy's Union for a Popular Movement - used his presidential immunity to keep investigators away.

In the case investigated in Nanterre, Chirac has faced questions about seven jobs at his former conservative party that were improperly paid for by City Hall or by construction companies.

In the other case - also centred on a jobs scandal at City Hall - Chirac is charged with embezzlement and breach of trust.

His lawyers have expressed hope that the two cases could be tried at the same time.

Chirac has denied any wrongdoing and noted that France long had no judicial rules regarding a framework for party financing.

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