On air
  • RFI English Live
  • RFI French Live

Law France Front National Islamic State Marine Le Pen

Issued on • Modified

Le Pen accused of playing victim after parliamentary immunity lifted

National Front leader Marine Le Pen Reuters/Benoit Tessier

The president of France's National Assembly on Thursday accused far-right leader Marine Le Pen of playing the victimisation card after the lifting of her parliamentary immunity in a case arising from tweets of grisly images of executions by the Islamic State (IS) armed group.

Parliamentary immunity "should not serve as an obstacle to the proper functioning of the law", François de Rugy told Franceinfo TV on Thursday, the day after the lower house of the French parliament removed all obstacles to Le Pen facing magistrates over the case.

Another far-right MP Gilbert Collard had his immunity lifted in September in connection with the same case.

The pair tweeted photos of IS executions, including the murder of US journalist James Foley, with the message "This is IS" in December 2015 after well-known French TV personality Jean-Jacques Bourdin suggested that the Islamists and the far right had a common interest in the polarisation of society during an interview with Le Pen.

An investigation into possible charges of circulating violent images was opened.

The move will mean that National Front (FN) leader, who refused to be questioned by magistrates citing her immunity when the case was opened, must now face the investigators but it does not necessarily mean she will be charged.

Both Le Pen and Collard also refused to meet the committee that was discussing lifting their immunity.

Angry reaction

"You can see that this is the smokescreen on the permanent far-right theme of victimisation," Rugy commented.

Le Pen was tweeting again on Wednesday.

"Better to be a jihadist returning from Syria than an MP who denounces the horrors of the Islamic State: there's less legal risk," she commented.

"The state ... and [President Emmanuel Macron's party] Republic on the Move don't want the French people to understand the results of what Daesh [IS] want to do to us, that is kill us," FN spokesman Sébastien Chénu told BFM TV.

The European parliament lifted Le Pen's immunity over the same case in March.

She also faces an investigation into alleged fake jobs at the European parliament.

Immunity accepted in racial hatred case

Another FN euro-MP succeeded in having a case concerning another tweet thrown out on the grounds of parliamentary immunity on Thursday.

In 2016 Steeve Briois, who is also mayor of the northern French town of Hénin-Beaumont, used his Twitter account to claim that Europe's sharing out of migrants had led to a rise in sexual assaults, adding a hashtag that indicated that he was quoting a speech he had made in the European parliament.

The court did not rule on whether the statement was an incitement to racial hatred, as the case against Briois alleged, but on the immunity question.

It accepted the argument of Briois's lawyer, David Dassa-Le Deist, that the tweet could not be considered separately from the speech.

Euro-MPs cannot be sued for opinions expressed during the course of their duties.