French far-right leader faces prosecution for posting violent images of IS killings in 2015
The French far-right leader Marine Le Pen has refused to undergo court-ordered psychiatric tests for posting pictures on social media of Islamic State atrocities.
The 50-year-old leader of the Rassemblement National(National Rally) party, formerly known as the Front National, is under investigation for distributing violent images in December 2015.
She shared the images including pictures of the killing of the American reporter James Foley a few weeks after jihadists killed 130 people in attacks in Paris in November 2015.
Le Pens immunity as a lawmaker was lifted in order for her to face prosecution in France for posting images considered to incite terrorism or pornography or seriously harm human dignity.
If convicted, she could face up to three years in prison or a 75,000 fine.
She voiced outrage on Thursday at a court order demanding she undergo psychiatric evaluation in the case.
I thought I had been through it all: well, no! For having condemned Daesh (IS) horrors in tweets, the justice system is putting me through psychiatric tests! Just how far will they go? she tweeted.
She later argued on BFM TV, a French 24-hour news broadcaster, that totalitarian regimes use such methods against opponents to make them look like theyre crazy. She told reporters she would skip the test. Id like to see how the judge would try and force me do it, she said.
Le Pen has argued that she shared the images in response to a French journalist who drew a comparison between IS and her party. She later deleted the picture of Foley after a request from his family, saying she had been unaware of his identity.
The court declined to confirm it had ordered the psychiatric evaluation but magistrates said such tests were a normal part of this kind of investigation.
Le Pens argument that she was being persecuted was picked up by others on the European far right. Italys interior minister, Matteo Salvini said in a statement: A court orders a psychiatric assessment for Marine Le Pen. Words fail me! Solidarity with her and with the French who love freedom!
In France, Le Pens leftwing rival Jean-Luc Mlenchon also criticised the idea of a psychiatric test and said Le Pen was politically responsible for her political acts. He added: This is not how we will weaken the far right.
Le Pen is attempting to win back political ground after her defeat by the centrist Emmanuel Macron in last years presidential election.
Her party is facing separate legal investigations over the alleged misuse of EU funds.