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Former French PM, wife to stand trial for fraud

PARIS, April 23 (KUNA) -- Former Prime Minister and presidential candidate in 2017, Francois Fillon, is to stand trial on a battery of fraud and misuse of public funds charges and his wife and some associates are also charged with similar crimes, media and judicial sources reported Tuesday.
Fillon, 65, served as Prime Minister under President Nicolas Sarkozy for a full five-year term from 2007-2012 before launching his candidacy to become president in the 2017 race.
He was considered a front-runner for the conservative ticket until the emergence of newspaper reports that he had hired his wife to work at his side when he was a parliamentarian but she was found to have practically never worked at that job.
The publication of allegations of fraud and corruption pushed him to third position in the first round of the presidential election and he was thus eliminated, leaving the path open for Emmanuel Macron to win the vote over far-right candidate Marine Le Pen.
Penelope Fillon, 63, was declared as a parliamentary assistant to her husband for almost three decades beginning in 1986 and she was paid Euros 680,000 (more than USD 700,000) during that period, but investigations were unable to find adequate traces of her work in parliament, or for her husband, French Radio said.
Fillon also hired his two children as staff members at the Senate when he was a French Senator and there was a question as to whether these were also "fictitious jobs." Three judges last Friday determined there was enough evidence to bring the Fillon couple and others to trial.
Fillon's wife is also under separate judicial scrutiny for another job she allegedly held at a publishing house where she was handsomely paid without major proof of having worked there significantly.
The former Prime Minister is also being brought to court for failing to legally declare a Euros 50,000 no-interest loan and for accepting undeclared gifts, including expensive suits.
The Fillons can appeal the court summons but if the trial goes ahead they face a maximum sentence of 10 years in jail and a fine of one million Euros, France Info TV indicated. (end) jk.mt