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The French Justice Department demands lifting of the immunity of Marine Le Pen at the European Parliament

14 Apr

translated from http://www.lemonde.fr/election-presidentielle-2017/article/2017/04/14/la-justice-francaise-a-demande-au-parlement-europeen-la-levee-de-l-immunite-de-marine-le-pen_5111132_4854003.html

The French justice department has demanded that the European Parliament lifts the parliamentary immunity of Marine Le Pen and of Marie-Christine Boutonnet, targets of an enquiry into suspected fictional employment of parliamentary assistants by the Front National (FN), Agence France-Presse (AFP) learned on Friday 14th April from a judiciary source.

The judges at the preliminary hearing addressed their demands to lift the parliamentary immunity of the FN European delegates on 29 and 30 March, specified this source, confirming the information relayed by Europe 1. These demands have been issued from the Paris Bench to the Bench General**, which transfers it, according to the procedure, to the chancellery before being sent to the European Parliament.

The extreme-right candidate in the presidential election has retreated behind her parliamentary immunity in order to block the judges’ summons issued in February and in March. She promises to attend the judiciary hearing after the electoral period. Marie-Christine Boutonnet has not responded to the summons of the ‘financial’ judges at the beginning of March.


Vote in an open session

The demand to lift the immunity that the French justice? Has addressed to the European Parliament is ‘standard procedure’, Marine Le Pen said on Friday.

Examining this demand to lift their immunity could take several months as it needs to be the subject of a vote in open session of the European Parliament. A debate would therefore happen in session, on the issue of which each European Deputy would be called to place an individual vote.

“The European deputy will keep their seat, but they will lose their immunity,” it is explained on the website of the European Parliament, reporting that the revocation of immunity is not a punishment but that “it simply authorises a national authority to investigate and pursue an inquiry.

“The preliminary hearing judges do not expect they will be successful before the presidential election,” France Inter stated with assurance.

The preliminary hearing judges are not able to compel a European Deputy to stand before them like anyone else who is answerable to judiciary authority. For each coercive measure, they have to first achieve the lifting of the immunity granted by the European Parliament. This was the same issue in another case presided over by the preliminary hearing judges at Nanterre, where they reproached Mme Le Pen for having distributed over Twitter images of executions by the jihadist group Islamic State.


Two parliamentary assistants put under scrutiny

A preliminary hearing has been opened by the Paris bench, which follows a parliamentary inquiry underway since 2015. The presiding judges are trying to determine if the Front National has created a system to remunerate its executives and employees with public funds of the European Union through contracts for assistants to deputies.

Following a police search at the FN head office, in February 2017, investigators seized a document leading them to believe that the ‘fraudulent’ was thought to have been established since 2012, and known by Marine Le Pen.

The European Parliament, which plays a civilian part in this affair, had informed the French justice department about the 29 parliamentary assistants. The trigger was their presence in positions listed in the last information chart for France, which throws doubt on their effective employment at the assembly sitting at Strasbourg.