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Corruption trial urged for former French PM Fillon and wife

Published
FILE - In this Sunday, April 23, 2017 file photo, French conservative presidential candidate Francois Fillon addresses his supporters in Paris. A French judicial official on Friday, Jan. 11, 2019 says the financial prosecutor’s office has asked that former French Prime Minister Francois Fillon and his wife be sent to trial on corruption charges. Fillon's 2017 presidential bid unraveled over allegations he paid his wife Penelope and two of their children more than 1 million euros ($1.1 million) over many years for jobs as parliamentary aides that involved no sustained work. (AP Photo/Michel Euler, file)

PARIS (AP) — France's financial prosecutor's office has asked that former Prime Minister Francois Fillon and his wife be sent to trial on corruption charges.

Fillon, who at one point was the front-runner in France's 2017 presidential race, saw his bid unravel over allegations he paid his wife Penelope and two of their children more than 1 million euros ($1.1 million) over many years for jobs as parliamentary aides that involved no sustained work.

Fillon, 64, has denied wrongdoing. He contends the allegations were a smear campaign to undo his presidential bid.

An official in the financial prosecutor's office confirmed press reports Friday that a demand to send the pair to trial was made. The official wasn't authorized to speak publicly. The investigating judge handling the case can accept or reject the prosecutors' request to put the couple on trial.

Fillon was handed preliminary charges in March 2017, including for misuse of public funds, receiving money from misuse of public funds and company assets and improper declaration of assets. His wife was also charged that year with misuse of public funds, receiving money from a misuse of company assets and receiving money from a fraud.

Fillon kept on running for president despite the corruption investigation, which he denounced as a "political assassination."

From the start of 2017, when the investigation began, Fillon had to limit his campaign events to political rallies and a few visits under high security to avoid anti-corruption protesters shouting "Fillon in prison!"

The 2017 election was won by Emmanuel Macron, a young upstart centrist.

Fillon served as prime minister under President Nicolas Sarkozy from 2007 to 2012. He had served five times as a government official under two previous presidents, Francois Mitterrand and Jacques Chirac.

In 1981, Fillon was elected to parliament for the first time, representing Sable-sur-Sarthe, a small town in rural western France where the family lives in a turreted home surrounded by a vast garden. At 27, he was the youngest lawmaker in the lower house of parliament, the National Assembly.

FILE - In this Sunday, April 23, 2017 file photo, French conservative presidential candidate Francois Fillon addresses his supporters in Paris. A French judicial official on Friday, Jan. 11, 2019 says the financial prosecutor’s office has asked that former French Prime Minister Francois Fillon and his wife be sent to trial on corruption charges. Fillon's 2017 presidential bid unraveled over allegations he paid his wife Penelope and two of their children more than 1 million euros ($1.1 million) over many years for jobs as parliamentary aides that involved no sustained work. (AP Photo/Michel Euler, file)
FILE - In this Sunday, April 23, 2017 file photo, French conservative presidential candidate Francois Fillon addresses his supporters in Paris. A French judicial official on Friday, Jan. 11, 2019 says the financial prosecutor’s office has asked that former French Prime Minister Francois Fillon and his wife be sent to trial on corruption charges. Fillon's 2017 presidential bid unraveled over allegations he paid his wife Penelope and two of their children more than 1 million euros ($1.1 million) over many years for jobs as parliamentary aides that involved no sustained work. (AP Photo/Michel Euler, file)