|February 8th, 2008||#1|
The paranormal silent type
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Where you least expect
Jean-Marie Le Pen (France)
Le Pen found guilty of Holocaust denial
By Henry Samuel in Paris
Last Updated: 8:16pm GMT 08/02/2008
Disgraced French far-Right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen was given a three-month suspended sentence on Friday for calling the Nazi occupation of France "not particularly inhuman".
The 79-year-old founder of the National Front party, not present for the verdict in a Paris court, was found guilty of denying a crime against humanity and complicity in condoning war crimes, both violations of France's Holocaust denial legislation.
Jean-Marie Le Pen with his daughter, Marine Le Pen
Mr Le Pen was also fined 10,000 euros. His lawyer said he would appeal against the sentence, which was below the five months called for by the prosecution.
The charges relate to comments Mr Le Pen made in an interview with far-Right Rivarol magazine in 2005.
The court said Mr Le Pen had sought to "instill doubt" about Nazi persecution of Resistance members and Jews and their deportation.
It also ruled that he had "re-written history" to present the Gestapo in a favourable light, while making no mention of its crimes when referring to a 1944 massacre in the town of Villeneuve d'Ascq.
"The court reproaches my client for not talking about certain episodes. That is impossible to defend," Mr Le Pen's lawyer, Walleyrand de Saint Juste, told The Daily Telegraph.
The veteran leader has been convicted of several other controversial outbursts, but anti-racism organisation MRAP praised the "very heavy" sentence, saying it was very rare to convict someone via the press.
A journalist at Rivarol and the newspaper's head received fines. All three were ordered to pay a symbolic euro to the Sons and Daughters of French Jews association.
The verdict comes as the National Front, which Mr Le Pen will lead for another three years, is facing political and final meltdown.
After coming close to winning the presidency in 2002, when he came a surprise second to Jacques Chirac, Mr Le Pen suffered a drubbing last year, when a large chunk of National Front voters jumped ship to support Nicolas Sarkozy.
They were swayed by the current president's tough stance on law and order, immigration and the need to defend French "national identity".
With a massive drop in state subsidies, the National Front has been forced to sell its long-standing headquarters, known as Le Paquebot (the steamship) on the southwestern outskirts of Paris.
A spokesman said that it would likely finalise a sale next month for the property valued at around 20 million euros, but that the party had "balanced its books".
The National Front is facing a new drubbing in next month's municipal elections, with only Mr Le Pen's daughter and likely political heir, Marine, in with a chance of becoming mayor in the depressed northern town of Hénin-Beaumont.
However, a recent poll last month showed that National Front voters are turning away from Mr Sarkozy in droves.
Last May, 88 per cent supported him for his "anti-establishment" popularism.
That figure has fallen to 43 per cent, with many appalled at his glitzy style and support of "the powerful against the poor", according to one pollster.
Miss Le Pen warned that waning support for Mr Sarkozy would not automatically help her party, but that she hoped that municipal elections would be a "first step" in rebuilding the decimated party.
Last edited by Alex Linder; February 8th, 2008 at 05:54 PM.