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French far-right leader sentenced

8 February 08 14:17 GMT

French far-right politician Jean-Marie Le Pen has been given a three-month suspended jail term for playing down the Nazi occupation of France.

Le Pen, who was also fined 10,000 euros (£7,400), described the occupation as "not especially inhumane".

Le Pen, 79, is the leader of the French far-right party, the National Front.

He reached a surprise second-place finish in the 2002 French presidential election, after beating the socialist candidate in the first round.

Le Pen's remarks were made in an interview with the far-right magazine Rivarol in January 2005.

Elsewhere in the article he described the 1944 massacre of 86 people in the town of Villeneuve d'Ascq as the actions of a junior officer "mad with rage", and praised the Gestapo for its role in the incident.

The French court ruled that Le Pen had denied a crime against humanity and had been complicit in condoning war crimes.

This is not the first time that Le Pen has faced legal sanctions for making controversial comments about the actions of the Nazis.

In 1987 he was fined for describing the Nazi gas chambers as a "detail of history".

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