VERSAILLES, France (AP) _ A French appeals court confirmed Tuesday that President Jacques Chirac cannot face criminal charges, or be questioned, over a Paris City Hall job scandal as long as he remains in office.

However, the court left open the possibility that Chirac, the leader of the Gaullist Rally for the Republic Party, could be summoned once he left office. ``Placing (Chirac) under investigation would be a possibility after his mandate ends,'' the court ruling said.

Chirac has come under scrutiny regarding an alleged employment scandal during his 1988-1993 tenure as mayor of Paris, and several political figures close to him at the time are targets of a probe, including Alain Juppe, a former prime minister.

A French judge is investigating allegations that some City Hall employees were actually working for Chirac's party and cashing in on fake jobs.

Last year, the country's constitutional court ruled that Chirac could face criminal charges while in office only if accused of treason.

Chirac was Paris mayor for 18 years until his election as president in 1995. His current first term ends in 2002 when he is expected to run for re-election.