( AFP ) - Former French president Jacques Chirac has refused to testify in a political dirty tricks scandal while he was in office, but a newspaper said Saturday he has been summoned over a separate party financing affair.
Chirac's office said the Gaullist leader, who stepped down as president on May 16, did not have to answer questions in the so-called Clearstream scandal which involves alleged attempts to discredit new president Nicolas Sarkozy.
Under the constitution "the president of the republic is not responsible for acts committed in this capacity" and a former head of state could not be made to testify on things that were "done or known during his mandate and in carrying out his functions," his office announced late Friday.
The Clearstream scandal centred on faked bank documents bearing names of prominent figures -- including Sarkozy -- who were falsely alleged to have received illegal commissions from the sale of French warships to Taiwan.
Sarkozy said he was the victim of a dirty tricks campaign to block his eventually successful bid for the presidency this year. Chirac has categorically denied any involvement.
Europe 1 radio reported that investigating judges Jean-Marie d'Huy and Henri Pons had hoped to interview Chirac over Clearstream in July but that the former president had declined.
According to Le Canard Enchaine, a satirical weekly, the judges want to ask Chirac about notes made by senior intelligence officer Philippe Rondot which could indicate that a 2004 investigation into the affair was carried out under presidential orders.
Chirac, 74, was president for 12 years. His presidential immunity ran out at midnight on June 16, a month after the end of his mandate.
Chirac has agreed though to answer questions about cases dating from before he became president in 1995, his office said.
And Le Parisien newspaper said the ex-president has been "discretely" summoned by an investigating magistrate looking into the use of invented posts at the Paris city hall, when Chirac was mayor of the capital. The money from the jobs was used to finance his party.
The newspaper said that investigating judge Alain Philibeaux would question Chirac as an "assisted witness" rather than a suspect.