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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 July 2006, 10:47 GMT 11:47 UK
Le Pen confident over Nazi charge
Jean-Marie Le Pen. File photo
Le Pen has been convicted of anti-Semitism in the past
French far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen is likely to be cleared of charges arising from his remarks about the Nazi occupation of France, his lawyers say.

A judge in Paris has charged Mr Le Pen with being an apologist for war crimes and disputing crimes against humanity.

Mr Le Pen was charged after reportedly saying that the occupation was "not especially inhumane" in January 2005.

He plans to run for president again next year. He reached the second round of the 2002 presidential election.

Mr Le Pen's lawyer told the French news agency AFP that it would be "very easy to defend" his client in court.

Wallerand de Saint-Just said the alleged remarks to France's right-wing Rivarol magazine were made informally after the interview had officially ended and were not meant for publication.

The lawyer added that the comments were not strong enough to constitute an offence.

Mr Le Pen was charged with "complicity in contesting crimes against humanity and complicity in justifying war crimes".

He said last year that it was "scandalous" he was not free to air his views.

If convicted, Mr Le Pen would still be able to appeal the verdict, postponing a final ruling until after the poll and allowing him to run.

Mr Le Pen, who founded the National Front (FN) party in 1972, has been convicted of racism or anti-Semitism on a number of occasions before.

In 1987, he described the Nazi gas chambers as a "detail of history". More than 70,000 French Jews were deported during the Nazi occupation from 1940 until 1944, while thousands of civilians died at the hands of the German army in France.

A date for the trial has not been made public.

Profile: Jean-Marie Le Pen
26 Apr 04 |  Europe
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