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French politics

Former French presidential hopeful Fillon and wife Penelope arrive for trial

The revelations ended Fillon's chances of the presidency
The revelations ended Fillon's chances of the presidency © AFP/CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT

Former French Prime Minister Francois Fillon and his wife Penelope arrived in court in Paris today for the start of a trial in which he is accused of embezzling public money by creating a fake job for his wife.

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The allegations ended Fillon’s hopes for the French presidency when first published in January 2017 in the satirical and investigative weekly newspaper Le Canard Enchaîné.

It emerged that Fillon’s Welsh-born wife had been paid as his parliamentary assistant between 1998 and 2013 although there is little documentary evidence that she did any such work.

Although she was paid up to 10,000 euros per month, she had no official access card to enter the French parliament.

Fillon denies the allegations and maintains that his wife did real work for him in his rural constituency of Sarthe.

Penelope Fillon, who is also charged in the case, had previously given interviews in which she professed not to have been involved in her husband’s political life.

Parliament could seek a million euros

The Fillons and a third defendant, Marc Joulard, who stood in for Fillon in parliament when he was a cabinet minister and also hired Penelope Fillon as an assistant, all face up to ten years in prison.

If found guilty, they may also face a hefty bill.

France’s National Assembly has joined the case as a civil party and could seek over one million euros in compensation.

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