20:51 GMT +320 March 2018
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    Conservative presidential candidate Francois Fillon arrives to deliver his speech at his campaign headquarters in Paris, Wednesday, March 1, 2017

    Fillon Refuses to Drop Out of French Presidential Race Amid Scandal

    © AP Photo/ Francois Mori
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    French presidential candidate from The Republicans party Francois Fillon confirmed that he was summoned to court on March 15. Earlier today, he was questioned by magistrates investigating a 'fake work' scandal involving his wife. Fillon is joined by his former rival in the conservative primaries Alain Juppe.

    "I have not misappropriated public funds… I have trusted the people close to me with jobs… because I knew I could count on their trust and their competence," Fillon said at the press conference.

    Fillon blasted the ongoing judicial inquiry as an attempt of "political assassination" directed at him. Having pleaded not guilty in the case of employment of his family members, Fillon will now have to prove it in court.

    "I won't give in, I won't surrender, I won't pull out, I'll fight to the end," Fillon said ending his speech.

    Earlier, French media reported that Fillon's presidential campaign director Patrick Stefanini had offered his resignation. There has been no confirmation yet.

    Fillon, who was initially one of the pollsters' favorites, saw his ratings drop after the scandal broke out in late January around his wife allegedly having been paid for jobs without exercising her duties. French media also questioned Fillon's children's employment as his parliamentary assistants between 2005 and 2007.

    The French financial prosecutor's office launched an official investigation on February, 24 into an allegedly fake employment of Fillon's wife. The investigation is devoted to assignment of state funds, complicity, concealment of offenses and trading in influence.

    French presidential elections are due to take place in two rounds on April 23 and May 7.


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