EU strips immunity from Marine Le Pen
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The European Parliament has voted to waive immunity from prosecution for far-right French MEP Marine Le Pen, paving the way for her to be prosecuted under French law for “inciting racial hatred” for remarks she made in a 2010 speech.
French far-right leader Marine Le Pen has had her European parliamentary immunity waived and is likely to face charges of “inciting racial hatred” over comments she made comparing Islamic immigration in France to the Nazi occupation.
At a political rally in December 2010, the MEP who heads France’s anti-Europe and anti-immigration National Front (FN) condemned Muslim who were praying in the streets of Paris.
"For those who like to talk about World War II, to talk about occupation, we could talk about, for once, the occupation of our territory," she said. "There are no armoured vehicles, no soldiers, but it is an occupation all the same and it weighs on people."
Prosecutors in Lyon, south-eastern France, want Le Pen to answer the charge of inciting racial hatred, but have been unable to summon her because of the immunity from prosecution she enjoys as an MEP, a position she has held since 2004.
Tuesday’s vote follows a secret ballot by the European Parliament’s Judicial Affairs Committee on June 19 which backed the recommendation to remove her immunity.
Trying to 'intimidate' Le Pen?
The day before the vote, Le Pen told LCI TV that she had fully expected Tuesday’s result.
“It’s going to happen because I am a dissident,” she said on Friday. “I have absolutely nothing to fear ... this move is meant to intimidate me.”
She added that parliamentarians “seem to keep their immunity when accused of having their fingers in the till, but when it comes to a political issue it’s a different story.”
Repeating the comments for which prosecutors want her to answer questions, she added: “I dared to say what everyone in France thinks, namely that prayers in the street, which happen regularly in France, are a form of occupation of French soil.”
Le Pen’s father Jean-Marie, who founded and led the FN until succeeded by his daughter in 2010, was stripped of his immunity as an MEP, and was subsequently prosecuted for commenting that the Holocaust was “a mere detail” of the Second World War.