Former French President Jacques Chirac
Former French President Jacques Chirac was found guilty of Corruption by a Paris court on December 15 2011. Reuters

News that former President Jacques Chirac has been found guilty of corruption rocked France Thursday.

Chirac, the first former head of state to face prosecution since the World War II era, was convicted Thursday of embezzlement and breach of trust for actions dates from his time as mayor of Paris in the early 1990s.

He received a two-year suspended sentence.

Chirac was found guilty of using his mayoral position to pay members of his Rally for the Republic party for municipal jobs that did not exist.

Chirac was not present for the reading of the verdict and had been exempted from attending the trial when his doctors provided a report stating he suffered from "severe" and "irreversible" neurological disorders.

His adopted daughter Anh Dao Traxel attended the hearing.

Throughout the trial Chirac denied the accusations and a statement read by his lawyers during the trial said he was "not at fault."

The verdict is set to surprise many in France as the prosecution had urged the judge to acquit Chirac and the nine others accused in the trial.

Chirac, who was mayor of Paris from 1977 to 1995, is the first former French head of state to be convicted since Marshal Philippe Petain, leader of the Vichy regime, who was found guilty in 1945 of collaborating with the Nazi occupiers.