French presidential candidate could face prosecution over tweets

Marine Le Pen shared graphic images of violence by the Islamic State on the social media site

French presidential candidate could face prosecution over tweets

Image: Hussein Malla AP/Press Association Images

A committee of the European Parliament has voted to strip French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen of her immunity from prosecution, citing tweets she shared that contained graphic images of violence by the Islamic State.

Le Pen, who leads her National Front party in the European legislature, 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.

The move grants the prosecutor looking into the affair power to bring Le Pen in for police questioning.

In the next steps, the prosecutor could drop the case, appoint an investigating magistrate to delve further into it, or send it straight to trial. 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.

The offence being considered is "publishing violent images", which under certain circumstances can carry a penalty of three years in prison and a fine of €75,000.

Le Pen has already seen her earnings as MEP cut for a different case involving alleged misuse of EU funds.

Reuters reported that Le Pen has lost her diplomatic immunity before, in 2013, also over comments she made about Muslim people.

"She was ... 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 II," the wire service reported. "Prosecutors eventually recommended the charges be dropped."