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Le Pen on trial for saying Nazis not inhumane

Angelique Chrisafis

— Photo: AFP

French far-right party leader Jean-Marie Le Pen.

Paris: The French far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen on Friday went on trial for condoning war crimes after he said the Nazi occupation of France during the second world war was “not particularly inhumane”.

In 2005, the founder of the Front National party told the far-right magazine Rivarol: “In France at least the German occupation was not particularly inhumane, even if there were a number of excesses — inevitable in a country of 550,000 sqkm.

“If the Germans had carried out mass executions across the country as the received wisdom would have it, then there wouldn’t have been any need for concentration camps for political deportees.”

Aided by the collaborationist Vichy government, German authorities deported more than 70,000 French Jews to death camps during the occupation from 1940 to 1944. Thousands of French civilians died in reprisals by the German army.

After the article’s publication, complaints against Mr. Le Pen were filed by various French groups, including an association for the children of deported French Jews.

He faces charges including “complicity in justifying war crimes”.

The Paris prosecutor’s office requested judges deliver a five-month suspended prison sentence and a €10,000 fine to Mr. Le Pen, who was not in court.

Mr. Le Pen (79), holds previous convictions for racism and for anti-Semitism. He called Nazi gas chambers “a detail of the history of the second world war.”

The journalist who wrote the article also faces a fine and the magazine’s editor, Marie-Luce Wacquez, risks a fine and a suspended prison sentence. — © Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2007

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