PARIS (Reuters) - A judge declared French former president Jacques Chirac guilty on Thursday in a political graft trial that made history by producing the first conviction of a head of state since Nazi collaborator Marshall Philippe Petain in 1945.
In the absence of the 79-year-old who ruled from 1995 until 2007, a judge declared Chirac guilty of misuse of public funds.
Chirac was tried on charges of diverting public money into phantom jobs for political cronies while he was mayor of Paris between 1977 and 1995, a time when he built a new center-right Gaullist party that launched his successful presidential bid.
The judge was due to announce later what penalty, if any, would be imposed.
(Reporting by Thierry Leveque; Writing by Brian Love)