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France right-wing leader goes on trial accused of pro-Nazi remarks

[JURIST] Jean-Marie Le Pen [BBC profile], leader of France's far-right National Front party [party website, in French], went on trial Friday for "complicity in contesting crimes against humanity and complicity in justifying war crimes." The charges stem from Le Pen's 2005 comments [BBC report] during an interview with the right-wing weekly magazine Rivarol [media website, in French] that the World War II Nazi occupation of France was "not particularly inhumane." Under a French anti-racism law [text, in French; Wikipedia backgrounder on the "Loi Gayssot"], it is illegal to deny Nazi war crimes. The prosecution has requested a five month suspended sentence and a fine of 10,000 euros. A verdict is expected on February 8.

The trial comes after Le Pen lost his fifth bid to become president [JURIST report] this past April. Le Pen's platform had included plans to reduce the age of criminal liability to 10, create a National Guard, end benefit payments to foreigners, create 75,000 more prison places, and pull France out of NATO [official website]. The National Front party failed to win a seat in the French parliament in the June legislative elections. Previously, Le Pen had surprised observers with his strong performance in the 2002 French presidential election [BBC backgrounder] when he finished second. Reuters has more. The Telegraph has additional coverage.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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