[JURIST] Jean-Marie Le Pen [BBC profile], leader of France's far-right National Front party [party website, in French], went on trial Friday for "complicity in contesting crimes against humanity and complicity in justifying war crimes." The charges stem from Le Pen's 2005 comments [BBC report] during an interview with the right-wing weekly magazine Rivarol [media website, in French] that the World War II Nazi occupation of France was "not particularly inhumane." Under a French anti-racism law [text, in French; Wikipedia backgrounder on the "Loi Gayssot"], it is illegal to deny Nazi war crimes. The prosecution has requested a five month suspended sentence and a fine of 10,000 euros. A verdict is expected on February 8.
The trial comes after Le Pen lost his fifth bid to become president [JURIST report] this past April. Le Pen's platform had included plans to reduce the age of criminal liability to 10, create a National Guard, end benefit payments to foreigners, create 75,000 more prison places, and pull France out of NATO [official website]. The National Front party failed to win a seat in the French parliament in the June legislative elections. Previously, Le Pen had surprised observers with his strong performance in the 2002 French presidential election [BBC backgrounder] when he finished second. Reuters has more. The Telegraph has additional coverage.