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Right-wing French leader to stand trial for Holocaust denial

[JURIST] France's far-right National Front [party website] leader Jean-Marie Le Pen [BBC profile], who surprised observers with his strong performance in the 2002 French presidential election [BBC backgrounder], will be put on trial in Paris for allegedly denying how brutal the Nazi occupation of France was during World War II, according to French judicial officials Wednesday. The charges stem from comments Le Pen made [BBC report] last year in an interview with the right-wing weekly magazine Rivarol [media website, in French], saying "in France, at least, the German occupation was not particularly inhumane, although there were some blunders." Under French anti-racism laws [text, in French; Wikipedia backgrounder on the "Loi Gayssot"], denying the Holocaust is a crime and Le Pen will be charged for "complicity in contesting crimes against humanity and complicity in justifying war crimes."

Le Pen's lawyers have already stated that Le Pen will likely be cleared of the charges, arguing that the comments were not strong enough to constitute a criminal offense and that Le Pen's were not meant for publication because he made the incriminating remarks after the formal Rivarol interview ended. Le Pen plans to run in the 2007 presidential election, and if convicted, will still be able to appeal the ruling and postpone a final verdict until after the vote. AP has more. BBC News has additional coverage.

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