The former French president Jacques Chirac has been handed a two-year suspended prison sentence after being found guilty of embezzling public funds to illegally finance the conservative party he led.
embezzle : 盗用；挪用；贪污
Chirac, a savvy world diplomat and part of France's political establishment for decades, is the first former French head of state to face prosecution since the second world war. But the 79-year-old former leader did not take part in the trial after doctors determined that he suffers from severe memory lapses.
head of state: 国家元首
memory lapse : 记忆差错
In the historic verdict, the court said it had found Chirac guilty in two related cases involving fake jobs created at the RPR party, which he led during his 1977-1995 tenure as Paris's mayor.
He was convicted of embezzling public funds, abuse of trust and illegal conflict of interest. Chirac has repeatedly denied wrongdoing.
The suspended sentence goes on Chirac's criminal record but means he does not have to go to prison. The court said it took into account his age, health and status as a former head of state when determining the sentence.
The prosecutor had earlier requested that the case be dropped, saying there was not enough evidence to prove intentional corruption, but the court disagreed, saying "his guilt results from longstanding and reiterated practices" of illegal party financing.
"For all those who could have expected a rejection of the case against him, or at least no penalty, the ruling can appear disappointing," said one of Chirac's lawyers, Georges Kiejman. "What I hope is that this ruling doesn't change in any way the deep affection the French feel legitimately for Jacques Chirac.
"We have to take a step back and read this ruling, we have to speak of course with the main person involved and we will know tonight if he accepts this decision or, on the contrary, he wants on principle to appeal. For the moment, it's impossible to say more."
on the contrary: 正相反
Chirac's spokeswoman, Benedicte Brissart, declined to comment, saying time was needed to go over the legal decision.
Chirac enjoyed immunity from prosecution during his 1995-2007 presidential tenure, during which he led France into the euro and strongly opposed the US-led invasion of Iraq.
immunity from prosecution: 免于公诉