The former France President Jacques Chirac says he is not in a fit state to attend his corruption trial, according to French media.
Jacques Chirac has asked the Paris court for his lawyers be allowed to represent him, AFP news agency has reported.
Jacques Chirac, 78, is accused of embezzling public funds in the 1990s, when he was mayor of Paris, but he denies the charges.
His trial is due to start on September 5, having been adjourned in March after a co-defendant argued that some of the charges were unconstitutional.
In a letter to the Paris court on Friday, Jacques Chirac wrote that he wanted his trial to go ahead “even if he no longer has the full ability to participate in hearings”.
A statement from former president Chirac’s lawyers said:
“In the letter… he requested that his lawyers be able to represent him and carry his voice during these hearings.”
A copy of Jacques Chirac’s medical records was enclosed in the letter, it added.
The medical report attached to Jacques Chirac’s letter to the court suggests his mind is in a “vulnerable mental state which does not permit him to answer questions about his past”.
This supports suggestions from friends of the ex-president that in recent months he has been suffering from memory lapses.
While the letter is an informal request, it is within the judge’s powers to accept it, or request a second medical opinion.
The letter could result in the trial being delayed, and possibly postponed indefinitely if it is deemed that Jacques Chirac is no longer able to talk with any reliability about things that happened more than 20 years ago.
French media described Jacques Chirac as tired during a holiday in St. Tropez last month, although he reportedly signed autographs and posed for pictures with tourists.
Jacques Chirac, who was mayor of Paris from 1977 to 1995, is the first former head of state to stand trial in France since World War II.
The ex-president is accused on two counts of paying members of his Rally for the Republic (RPR) party for municipal jobs that did not exist.
The first count accuses Jacques Chirac of embezzlement and breach of trust relating to 21 so-called “ghost jobs”.
The second count came about from a separate investigation in the Paris suburb of Nanterre and involves an illegal conflict of interest relating to seven ghost jobs.
There were persistent rumors of wrongdoing for years, but Jacques Chirac had immunity from prosecution while he was president from 1995 to 2007.
After 11 years of legal wrangling, Chirac and nine other defendants finally went in court in March.
However, on the second day of the trial a lawyer representing Jacques Chirac’s former chief of staff at city hall, Remy Chardon, challenged the two cases being brought together.
He argued that the statute of limitations had expired in the first case.
The judge decided to refer the question to the Court of Cassation, which ruled that the constitutional challenge was not valid.