Court upholds Jean-Marie Le Pen fine for Holocaust comment


Paris (AFP)

France's top appeals court upheld a 30,000-euro fine Tuesday against former far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen for dismissing the Nazi gas chambers as a "detail" of history.

Le Pen, 89, had been found guilty twice by lower courts of denying crimes against humanity over the 2015 remark and had taken his case to the final court of appeal.

"It doesn't surprise me, coming from these crooks," Le Pen told AFP in response to the verdict, blasting what he said was "collusion" against him in the court system.

The court upheld a fine of 30,003 euros ($37,200) to be paid to three anti-racism groups, and another 4,000 euros in legal costs.

His daughter, current National Front (FN) leader Marine Le Pen, booted him from the party he co-founded over the comment, as part of her attempts to rid the party of a reputation for anti-Semitism.

In April 2015, a television journalist had asked Jean-Marie Le Pen if he regretted having previously expressed the same view in 1987.

"Not at all," Le Pen replied. "What I said corresponded to my belief that the gas chambers were a detail of the history of the war."

Le Pen already had a string of hate speech convictions, including against Muslims and Roma people.

He was fined twice in the 1990s for making similar comments about the World War II gas chambers.

Marine Le Pen, who has been embroiled in a bitter and highly public row with her father for years, stripped him of his National Front membership after his 2015 repetition of his views.

But he remained in his role as the FN's honorary president until this month, when she was finally able to change the party statutes to kick him out once and for all.