An appeals court has ordered a French mayor to pay €3,000 in fines after he told a local journalist that “Hitler didn’t kill enough” Roma.
The court in Angers, in western France, convicted Gilles Bourdouleix – a French MP and the mayor of the small city of Cholet, near Nantes – of condoning a crime against humanity with the remark.
Bourdouleix caused an uproar last summer when he reportedly told a journalist from the local newspaper, Le Courrier de l’Ouest, that “perhaps Hitler didn’t kill enough” Roma. At the time, Cholet’s city hall was fighting an illegal Roma camp that had been set up on nearby farmland.
The comments made shock waves across France, prompting the then-interior minister, Manuel Valls, to request that a lawsuit be filed against the mayor. Bourdouleix was also forced to resign from his party, the centrist Union des Démocrates et Indépendants (UDI).
Bourdouleix later claimed his comments had been taken out of context and that he was the target of a vicious smear campaign.
"I mumbled something like, 'If it was Hitler he would have killed them here', meaning, 'Thank goodness I'm not Hitler and so there's no reason to call me Hitler'," he told French broadcaster BFMTV at the time. "This is shameful score-settling which aims to smear me."
Hundreds of thousands of European Roma were killed by Nazi Germany and its allies during World War II in what is known as the Romani Holocaust.
It is not the first time the politician has been accused of targeting Roma and other travelling people. In 2006, Bourdouleix sent out a petition to France’s 36,500 mayors, asking for mayors to be given extra powers to deal with the illeagl occupation of land.
Bourdouleix has been the mayor of Cholet since 1995, and a lawmaker since 2002.
Earlier this year, he was fined €3,000 by a lower court for the remark, but the fine was suspended. Both Bourdouleix and the prosecution later appealed the court’s decision.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)
Date created : 2014-08-12