EU parliamentarians agreed to suspend, in a preliminary vote, French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen’s immunity as police seek to investigate her posting violent ISIL images on Twitter.
In 2015 Le Pen, an MEP representing her National Front political party, posted graphic images of ISIL executions including the beheading of United States journalist James Foley.
French police seek to investigate Le Pen regarding the images and could level charges against her for “publishing violent images.” The offense can be punishable to up to three years in prison and carry a fine of €75,000.
As an MEP, however, Le Pen is immune from prosecution. But acting on a request by the French judiciary, the EU parliament’s legal affairs committee overwhelmingly took the first step to allow a police investigation.
The vote was confirmed by eurosceptic 5 Star Movement lawmaker Laura Ferrara. Eighteen MEPs voted in favour of lifting Le Pen’s immunity overriding the three who voted against the move.
The whole of the EU parliament is expected to vote later this week to either quash, or support, the committee vote.
Florian Philippot, the National Front’s vice president came to Le Pen’s defence telling Reuters showing “and naming the horror of Islamism allow us to fight against it.”
If the EU parliament votes in favour of stripping Le Pen of her immunity, it wouldn’t be for the first time.
In 2013 Le Pen’s immunity was lifted, and she was prosecuted two years later for “incitement to discriminate over people’s religious beliefs” for comparing Muslims praying in public to the Nazi occupation of France. The charge would be later dropped.
Le Pen’s candidacy has been mired in controversy. She recently publically denounced government civil servants, including the police and judicial magistrates, of bias against her campaign and using state influence and resources on behalf the Élysée.
She has additionally called for a moratorium on legal proceedings against her until after the election. Her camp is also working to overcome a separate investigation into alleged misuse of EU funds.
Le Pen is locked in an increasingly bitter presidential race out-pacing her two rivals: centrist Emmanuel Macron and conservative Francois Fillon.
Le Pen is expected to win the first of France’s two-round presidential voting system in April, according to recent polling.
Macron is expected to contest a final run-off vote against Le Pen in May, winning 62 percent of the vote verses 38 percent for Le Pen.
A simple majority is needed for a candidate to become president.