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Chirac will not attend his trial

Former French president Jacques Chirac will not be required to attend his long-awaited corruption trial after his lawyers said the 78-year-old is suffering memory lapses.

Judge Dominique Pauthe said he took into account an appeal by Chirac's defence team and ruled the trial will be allowed to go ahead without the ex-president in court.

France's first trial involving a former head of state since the Second World War is to run until September 23. It was suspended shortly after it began in March so a higher court could rule on an appeal by one of the co-defendants.

The trial involves two cases centring on the alleged creation of more than two dozen fake City Hall jobs used to fund Chirac's conservative party while he was mayor of Paris from 1977 to 1995. He enjoyed immunity from prosecution during his subsequent 12 years as head of state.

The judge read from a letter by Chirac's lawyers saying the ex-president wanted to be heard because it would be "useful for our democracy" and show that "all people are equal under the law".

The letter, Judge Pauthe said, came accompanied by four pages of medical records, including a brain scan in April.

Lawyer Jean Veil told the court that Chirac suffers from "severe memory lapses" linked to an "irreversible condition" He said Chirac's condition was not a sickness but a "symptom" possibly linked to his 2005 stroke or "other origins".

Chirac's legal team wrote to the tribunal on Friday arguing that Chirac "no longer has the full capacity to participate in court". Chirac's wife Bernadette denied rumours earlier this year that he had Alzheimer's disease, but she acknowledged he was experiencing problems that were either linked to a 2005 stroke or his age.

Chirac has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and his lawyers said previously that he was welcoming the chance to make his case in court.

On trial with Chirac are two of his former mayoral chiefs of staff and seven others said to have benefited improperly.

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