French lawmaker Gilles Bourdouleix faces possible prosecution after a local newspaper quoted him telling a group of Gypsies he wished Hitler had killed more of them during World War II.
The allegation followed a confrontation with the group which had set up an illegal camp in his home town of Cholet in western France.
On a recording posted on various media websites, Bourdouleix could be heard saying “Hitler maybe didn’t kill enough of them”.
His remarks were broadcast across France as President Francois Hollande moves to defuse growing anger over illegal Roma camps from conservatives and frustrated taxpayers, who, in a time of austerity, feel that social services provided by the state are being abused.
The MP, who is also mayor of the town, later told a television channel his comments had been misinterpreted.
“I mumbled something like, ‘if it was Hitler he would have killed them here’, meaning, ‘thank goodness I’m not Hitler’ and so there’s no reason to call me Hitler,” he told BFM news TV.
“This is shameful score-settling which aims to smear me,” Bourdouleix added.
“This is not a slip of the tongue,” Interior Minister Manuel Valls said.
“A case has been brought before the courts because this is praise for the crimes of World War Two. It’s praise for Nazis,
and coming from a mayor it’s unacceptable,” he said.
Angers prosecutor Yves Gambert confirmed that a preliminary investigation had been opened into whether Bourdouleix was an “apologist for crimes against humanity”.