Marine Le Pen Stripped Of EU Parliament Immunity For Tweeting Pictures Of Islamic State Violence
Having recently joined her competitor Francois Fillon in facing the French legal system over possible embezzlement charges of her own, after her chief of staff and bodyguard were detained by police last week, the push to isolate and crack down on the anti-establishment presidential candidate moved to the European Parliament where EU lawmakers lifted Le Pen’s EU parliamentary immunity on Thursday for tweeting pictures of Islamic State violence.
Le Pen is under investigation in France for posting three graphic images of Islamic State executions on Twitter in December 2015, including the beheading of American journalist James Foley. Le Pen’s immunity shielded her from prosecution. By lifting it, just over a month before the first round of the French presidential election after a request from the French judiciary, the parliament is allowing any eventual legal action against her.
The vote on Thursday by a large show of hands in the plenary of the EU Parliament confirmed a preliminary decision taken on Tuesday by the legal affairs committee of the EU legislature. In the report underpinning parliament’s decision, eurosceptic 5 Star Movement lawmaker Laura Ferrara said that although the images posted by Le Pen were easily accessible on several websites, “this does not alter the fact that their violent nature is likely to undermine human dignity”.
Le Pen’s move was seen as not appropriate for a member of the European Parliament, the report said. Ferrara also said that there was no reason to think Le Pen was being persecuted judicially because “the speed at which legal proceedings have been taken against Marine Le Pen is comparable to the pace of other proceedings in matters relating to the press and other media”.
The EU parliament decision, reported by Reuters, grants the prosecutor looking into the affair power to bring Le Pen in for police questioning.
Among the possible next steps, the prosecutor could drop the case, appoint an investigating magistrate to delve further into it, or send it straight to trial. The most likely outcome of what many have blasted as a politically-motivated decision is the last one. A trial date ahead of the election in April and May would require the French legal process to go much faster than it normally does.
If Le Pen is convicted for the offence under consideration, which incidentally is “publishing violent images”, the presidential candidate can face a penalty of three years in prison and a fine of 75,000 euros ($78,930).
Naturally, Le Pen has denounced the legal proceedings against her as political interference in the campaign and called for a moratorium on judicial investigations until the election period has passed. Le Pen has already seen her earnings as MEP cut for a different case involving alleged misuse of EU funds.
Meanwhile, despite her recent legal troubles, Le Pen’s polling remains strong in the first round where she is expected to win but lose in the runoff (then again, polls lately have been… off).
More importantly, the polls show that her legal battles seem to have little effect on her supporters.
Le Pen’s immunity has been lifted before, in 2013, by the EU parliament. She was then prosecuted in 2015 with “incitement to discrimination over people’s religious beliefs”, for comparing Muslims praying in public to the Nazi occupation of France during World War Two. Prosecutors eventually recommended the charges be dropped.
‘Sh*t! What do you want me to do?’ Moment Juncker LOSES IT with whining MEPs over EU plans
THIS is the extraordinary moment an exasperated Jean-Claude Juncker finally snapped at MEPs whining about his landmark consultation on the future of the EU, barking: “Sh*t, what do you want me to do?”
Mar 2, 2017 By NICK GUTTERIDGE, BRUSSELS CORRESPONDENT
The Brussels chief lost it with representatives of the EU parliament after they attacked his plans to consult ordinary European voters on which path eurocrats should take to save the bloc from collapsing.
His outburst came at the end of a gruelling hour and fifteen minute debate on the EU Commission’s highly publicised white paper, during which MEPs repeatedly called on Mr Juncker to voice his personal opinions.
Eurocrats have outlined five “pathways” they believe the EU can take post-Brexit, ranging from reverting back to a simple trading bloc right through to the establishment of a full-blown United States of Europe.
Jean-Claude Juncker was left less than impressed with MEPs yesterday
The EU boss had a face like thunder as he berated the EU Parliament
After listening to their rambling speeches a thunderous looking Mr Juncker replied: “What I will say to those who think that the Commission has chosen poorly, is that in Europe you can’t have enough innovation.
“There are many traditionalists, many conservatives, who cannot accept changing a method and my method has been criticised.
“The approach of making a number of proposals which have had thought put into them, but which have never been discussed with the broader public, that has been the approach that has been criticised.”
He added: “So we are putting forward on this occasion a number of different scenarios. Not all of them have met with approval, I’m sure that you will understand that amongst the scenarios put forward there is one that I would like more than the other four.
“But if we were simply to put that forward then there wouldn’t be any discussion and voices would be raised against us saying that we had stifled the debate and saying that we had not listened to the voices of our citizens.”
Finally losing his temper at the Catch-22 situation, he then raged: “But sh*t, I would say sh*t if we weren’t in the EU parliament. What do you want us to do?”
Instead of moaning, he urged left-wing politicians to discuss their favourite option amongst themselves and then to reach out to socialist prime ministers across the continent to gauge their views.
Conservative politicians and reformists meanwhile welcomed the significant change of heart from the EU boss and said the consultation demonstrated that eurocrats finally understood the need to consult ordinary people on the direction of the project.