3 Mar 2017

Marine Le Pen loses immunity over IS tweets

7:14 pm on 3 March 2017

The European Parliament has lifted French far-right leader Marine Le Pen's immunity from prosecution after she tweeted pictures of so-called Islamic State (IS) violence.

Marine Le Pen

Marine Le Pen is currently running to be France's president. Photo: AFP

Ms Le Pen is under investigation in France for posting three graphic images of IS killings in 2015, including the beheading of US journalist James Foley.

Her position as an MEP has so far meant she could not be prosecuted.

Ms Le Pen is currently running to be French president.

Opinion polls suggest she is on course to win the first round in April, but centrist Emmanuel Macron is gaining ground and looks likely to beat her in a second round in May.

A Figaro/LCI poll on Sunday put Mr Macron - who was unveiling his manifesto at the same time as it was revealed Ms Le Pen had lost her immunity - on 58 percent in the run-off, against 42 percent for Ms Le Pen.

The European Parliament vote - carried by a "big majority", according to acting parliament speaker Dimitrios Papadimoulis - confirmed a preliminary decision taken on Tuesday by the legal affairs committee of the European Union legislature.

Ms Le Pen had dismissed efforts to lift her immunity as "part of the system that wants to stop the French people's candidate that I am".

The allegations date back to December 2015, when she tweeted the pictures in response to a journalist who drew an analogy between her anti-immigration Front National (FN) party and IS extremists.

Mr Foley's parents accused Ms Le Pen of using the "shamefully uncensored" image of their son for her own political ends.

The vote only lifts her immunity in this particular case, and will not cover a separate investigation into whether the FN misused European Parliament funds.

Ms Le Pen has refused to attend a police interview over the latter allegations. She denies wrongdoing and claims that they are a plot to derail her campaign.

- BBC

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