AR-Online logo 



Posted Tuesday, October 6, 1998 8:30 PM


Stop PressLe Pen Stripped of Legal Immunity

France's Leading Right-Wing Politician to be put on Trial by Germans
BRUSSELS -- The European Parliament has today (October 6) lifted Jean Marie le Pen's Parliamentary immunity to enable him to be put on trial in Munich, Bavaria, for having stated in a public speech that "the gas chambers are a mere detail of history," thereby trivialising the Holocaust, which is a crime under Germany's laws for the suppression of free speech.

[more will follow]

October 7, 1998


Le Pen is step closer to facing "Holocaust" trial


By Toby Helm, EU Correspondent, in Brussels

THE EUROPEAN Parliament yesterday stripped Jean-Marie Le Pen, the French National Front leader, of his immunity from prosecution, opening the way for him to be tried in Germany for dismissing the Nazi gas chambers as a "detail of history".

After acrimonious exchanges in which the 70-year-old nationalist claimed his right to freedom of speech was being challenged, Euro-MPs voted 420 to 20 to suspend the legal protection he enjoys by virtue of being a member of the Brussels and Strasbourg assembly.

Their decision set the stage for M Le Pen to be tried in Bavaria for inciting racial hatred -- a crime that carries a maximum five-year prison sentence.

"I'm not surprised," said M Le Pen. "It was a political vote. Almost the whole of the parliament is Europhile... it wanted to settle accounts with the president of the National Front, a patriotic movement which prefers its motherland, France, to Europe and its lobbies."

Asked whether he would answer a German summons, M Le Pen said he had not made up his mind, but would request "diplomatic guarantees" if he did "to avoid being subjected to the fate of thousands of people jailed in Germany for their opinions".

M Le Pen caused outrage last December when he made the remarks at the launch in Munich of a book Le Pen, the rebel -- the National Front, a model for Germany, by the German Right-winger, Franz Schönhuber. In what many Euro-MPs believe was a calculated ploy designed to achieve maximum publicity while on German soil, M Le Pen told the audience: "I have said and I repeat, at the risk of being sacrilegious, that the gas chambers are a detail of the history of the Second World War.

"If you take a 1,000-page book on [the war] the concentration camps take up only two pages and the gas chambers 10 to 15 lines. This is what one calls a detail."

Plans "to avoid being subjected to the fate of thousands of people jailed in Germany for their opinions..."

Immediately after yesterday's vote in the Strasbourg Parliament, the public prosecutor's office in Munich, which had requested Euro-MPs to consider lifting his immunity, said it would begin preliminary proceedings to see if the case should come to court. An official said lawyers would interview M Le Pen soon.

Before the vote, M Le Pen denounced his many critics in the Parliament and insisted he had never denied nor minimised the Nazi Holocaust against the Jews. He said: "The question that should be asked is whether Le Pen had the right to express himself on the gas chambers. I am against tailor-made thinking.

Referring to his father's death, he added: "I am one of the victims of this war. It ruined my family."

Last month the Parliament's comnuttee on rules of procedure recommended that the 626 Euro-Mps should lift M Le Pen's immunity, arguing that under German law he had a case to answer. But M. Le Pen won strong support from a fellow National Front member and French Euro-MP, Bruno Gollnisch. who told the committee that more and more historians now believed gas chambers had not existed in concentration camps.

M Gollnisch, a university lecturer who, like M Le Pen, sits as an independent in the Parliament, said: "People have visited gas chambers in the concentration camps where they are now known not to have existed."

He maintained that because M Le Pen's father was tortured by the Germans, the lifting of his immunity would mean "a child of a victim will be tried by the children of the torturers".

M Le Pen currently faces being barred from public office in France for two years for throwing punches at a Socialist woman politician last year. A ruling on his appeal against the bar is due on Nov 17.

In 1987, he was fined almost £150,000 in a French court for "vulgarising the persecution and suffering inflicted on deportees, and particularly on Jews and gipsies, by the Nazis"

Our opinion
  The consequences of this vote for Jean-Marie Le Pen are serious. In Germany there is no consitutional First Amendment protecting free speech in this case. Experience shows that the German courts, particularly those in Munich, will not allow his lawyers to stage a realistic defence. Unquestionably the French authorities will allow his extradition. The German prosecutors will demand a suspended prison sentence, a heavy fine, and the most abject and grovelling apology, and if he is found guilty, a promise not to repeat the offence; he will be fined a multiple number of Tagessätze (daily units), each unit being his estimated daily income (and Le Pen is a very wealthy man).

David Irving was fined twelve thousand dollars for offending under the same laws in January 1993 (he said that the gas chamber shown to tourists at Auschwitz is a post-war fake, a statement which the Poles now admit to be true). Le Pen can expect no mercy, under Germany's laws, which are designed to protect every nook and cranny of the wartime Holocaust story.

 Register your name and address to go on the Mailing List to receive

[ Go back to AR Online Index | Index to AR.#14 | Go to Main Action Report Index ]

Order books | Auschwitz Index | Irving Index | Irving Page | Irving Book-List | Other FP Authors
Buchladen | Auschwitz | Irving-Verzeichnis | -Hauptseite | -Bücher | Weitere FP-Autoren
© Focal Point 1998 write to David Irving