Le Pen set to lose immunity over IS tweets
Front National leader Marine Le Pen at work in the European Parliament. Source: Wikimedia
MEPs have paved the way for French Front National leader Marine Le Pen to lose her parliamentary immunity for tweeting pictures of Islamic State atrocities, according to EU sources.
French prosecutors opened an investigation in December 2015 into the tweets, including a photo of the decapitated body of US reporter James Foley.
The European Parliament announced that 18 MEPs from the Legal Affairs Committee voted in favour of removing Le Pen’s immunity and three voted against.
The offence of “publishing violent images” can carry a penalty of three years in prison.
The EU parliament as a whole must now vote on the issue, probably this week, but committee decisions are generally endorsed by the wider assembly.
In France, an online petition urging former US president Barack Obama to stand in France’s presidential election has attracted more than 42,000 supporters.
Campaign posters reading “Oui, on peut”, in reference to the 2008 campaign slogan, “Yes, we can”, are spreading around Paris.
Obama is not French and therefore ineligible to run.
But campaign organisers say the point is to highlight the lack of any inspirational candidate.
An organiser said they wanted to tell the candidates: “Hey guys, you really don’t make us dream.”
French voters go to the polls on April 23. If no candidate wins more than 50 per cent in the first round, a runoff is held.
Opinion polls give Le Pen a firm lead over conservative Francois Fillon and centrist Emmanuel Macron, although both of her rivals are tipped to beat her in a runoff.
On the security front, at least two people have been injured after a police marksman accidentally fired during a speech by outgoing president, François Hollande.
Hollande was opening a high-speed train line in Villognon in central France to link between Paris and Bordeaux when a police sniper accidentally opened fire, the Sud-Ouest newspaper reported.
The gendarmerie presidential protection squad was positioned on a rooftop about 100 metres from the event.
The safety catch on the sniper rifle was apparently off when he tripped while adjusting his position. The bullet pierced the marquee roof, hitting a waiter in the leg and a member of railway staff in the foot, according to the municipal authorities.
The victims were treated at the scene in a separate area from where the president was speaking, before being taken away by fire fighters, who confirmed that the injuries were “minor”. An inquiry had been opened into the incident, officials said.
Hollande was among the guests who rushed to their aid, according to Le Parisien.