France: Former PM Fillon appears at Paris court on fraud charges

France's former Prime Minister Francois Fillon appeared on court at the Tribunal of Paris on Wednesday, over fraud allegations for the «PenelopeGate» fake-job scandal. Footage shows Fillon along with his wife Penelope and former lawmaker Marc Joulaud escorted by the police to the court room. «In this investigation all the witnesses for the prosecution, all the witnesses for the prosecution were... Еще eagerly heard and we demonstrated that when there were persons for the defense, persons who either appeared spontaneously, or whose contact information we gave, examining magistrates deliberately chose to dismiss them,» said Antonin Levy, lawyer of Francois Fillon. «So when you take a file with one look and you point it in one direction, it is normal that you come to a conclusion which is the one that was expected at the beginning, the file was built to demonstrate that Penelope Fillon was not working. At the end of these debates, when we look at all the evidence and the testimony that we have been able to provide, we realize that the reality is quite different and that Penelope Fillon actually was working with her husband and with Marc Joulaud,» he added. Fillon allegedly used public funds to pay his wife and two of their children a total of over €1 million ($1.09 million) between 1998 and 2013 for working as parliamentary assistants, jobs which they allegedly never performed. Fillon has denied any wrongdoing and said his wife's work for him would be proven at trial. If found guilty, the former prime minister, who served between 2007 and 2012, and his wife face up to ten years in prison and a €1 million ($1.09 million) fine. The allegations ended Fillon's hopes for winning French presidency when first published in January 2017 in the «Le Canard Enchaine» newspaper.

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