French Public Prosecutors Call for Marine Le Pen to Be Tried for Tweeting Graphic ISIL Images

David Chazan, Telegraph, March 1, 2019

French public prosecutors on Friday called for Marine Le Pen, the far-Right leader, to be tried for tweeting gruesome images of Isil killings, including the beheading of an American journalist.

It is now up to an investigating judge to decide whether to proceed, but the prosecutors’ recommendation makes a trial more likely.

It increases pressure on Ms Le Pen, who is also facing legal problems over her party’s alleged misuse of European Parliament funds.

Ms Le Pen, a former MEP elected to the French parliament two years ago, posted three images in 2015, one of which showed the beheaded body of James Foley, an American journalist executed by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil).

The others showed a Syrian soldier crushed to death under a tank and a Jordanian pilot burned to death in a cage.

Prosecutors also recommended that Gilbert Collard, an MP from Ms Le Pen’s National Rally party, face trial on similar charges. The party was formerly called the National Front.

Ms Le Pen was stripped of her parliamentary immunity and charged last year with “circulating violent pictures likely to be seen by children”. If she stands trial and is convicted, she would be liable to a maximum prison sentence of three years and a €75,000 (£64,000) fine.

Ms Le Pen, 50, has refused a judge’s order to undergo psychiatric tests in connection with her posts.

She has said the case is politically motivated and breaches her freedom of expression.

She tweeted the graphic pictures weeks after Isil terrorists killed 130 people in attacks in Paris in November 2015. Under the pictures, she wrote “Daesh [Isil] is this”. Her post provoked outrage and widespread condemnation in France.

She later deleted the picture of James Foley after a request from his family. She said she had been unaware of his identity.

Ms Le Pen and other members of of her party are under investigation over allegations that they misused €6.8 million (£5.8m) of European parliament funds between 2009 and 2017.

The funds were allegedly used to pay staff who were employed on party business rather than parliamentary work. Ms Le Pen and the party deny wrongdoing.

Opinion polls indicate that the National Rally is running a close second to President Emmanuel Macron’s party, Republic on the Move, in voting intentions for European elections due in May.

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