PARIS -- A Paris court opened a long-awaited corruption trial Monday with former President Jacques Chirac as the star defendant, but quickly suspended the opening session over a technical legal issue that may go to France's highest court for a decision.

Presiding Judge Dominique Pauthe was responding to calls by the Paris state prosecutor and defense attorneys who have argued that the fusion of two separate investigations involving Chirac may not meet a crucial constitutional test.

Pauthe suspended the hearing after some 2-1/2 hours and said he would rule by Tuesday afternoon whether the lawyers' call for the Court of Cassation, France's highest court, to intervene was warranted.

Chirac, 78, is the first French head of state to go on trial since the country's Nazi-era leader was exiled. He was not present Monday.