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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Chirac to Appear as Witness

PARIS -- Former French President Jacques Chirac is to be questioned in the coming months over a corruption scandal involving fake jobs created to help fund a conservative political party he headed, his lawyer said Tuesday.

Chirac will "very probably" be questioned before Sept. 15 in a key, long-running case as a material witness, lawyer Jean Veil said on Europe-1 radio. The role of a material witness means that Chirac himself is not under investigation.

The fake jobs scandal is the most potent of a string of potential legal problems Chirac, 74, faces now that he no longer has presidential immunity. He handed over the French presidency to Nicolas Sarkozy on May 16.

The jobs case dates back to Chirac's years as mayor of Paris, from 1977 to 1995, when Chirac also headed the conservative party Rally for the Republic. Investigators say operatives from the RPR were illegally on the Paris city payroll in a scheme to help finance the party, and that the equivalent of millions of euros in salaries and fees were doled out.

Under French law, a material witness falls between a simple witness and a suspect. The material witness is not formally under investigation and also has the right to a lawyer during questioning. They can later face charges if investigating magistrates find "serious or concordant signs" of an infraction or a crime.