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Fillon, charged in fraud scandal, vows to fight on in presidential bid

François Fillon's press conference in Paris, 1 March 2017.
François Fillon's press conference in Paris, 1 March 2017. Reuters/Charles Platiau

Right-wing presidential candidate François Fillon has announced that he will stay in the race, despite being charged in the ongoing fraud scandal concerning his wife's "fake job" as parliamentary assistant. He confirmed that he will appear before an examining magistrate on 15 March.

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Fillon made the announcement at a press conference at his campaign headquarters in Paris on Wednesday.

"My lawyer was informed that I have been summoned to appear before a judge on 15 March," he confirmed.

He said that his court date, however, will not impact his candidacy.

"I will not give up, I will not stand down," he said.

"I will see this through until the very end."

Fillon denounced his "political assassination" by the media. "It's not only my assassination at hand; it's the assassination of the presidential election itself."

"The concept of 'innocent until proved guilty' has completely disappeared," he added.

The right-wing candidate said "only the French people" can decide his fate, and invited his supporters "to resist" with him.

Cancelled agricultural fair visit

Fillon gave his press conference after abruptly postponing a visit to the agricultural fair in Paris earlier that morning. The agricultural show has become a key stop on the campaign trail for French presidential candidates.

His campaign did not give an explanation for the last-minute schedule change. Even some of his campaign staff were unaware of the change themselves, according to AFP.

Fillon’s campaign has been undermined by allegations that his wife Penelope was paid hundreds of thousands of euros for a “fake job” as parliamentary assistant over a period of more than 10 years. The allegation is that she was paid for work she did not do.

The ongoing fraud investigation has caused Fillon to drop in the polls, with centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron and far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen currently leading.
 

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