Reuters SAA /
Jean-Marie Le Pen, founder of France’s largest right-wing nationalist party, appeared in court through his lawyer on Wednesday, accused of inciting racial hatred, after he made statements targeting a Jewish singer.
The trial relates to a video recording published in 2014 on the website of the National Front party, in which Le Pen criticized artists who denounced his extremist positions.
In the aforementioned video, Le Pen responds to a question about the French singer and actor Patrick Bruel, referring to his Jewish origins with a phrase that evokes the Holocaust, saying: “I am not surprised (…) Next time we will form a complete oven group!”
This sarcasm angered his party leaders, including his daughter Marine Le Pen, who considered these statements a “political mistake.”
Le Pen said the comments carried no anti-Semitic connotations “except in the eyes of my political enemies or idiots”.
His defense team argued in court that their client was speaking in a figurative sense, but prosecutors said his words were unequivocal.
The judges said they would deliver their verdict on October 29 after the day-long hearing in which Le Pen was charged with inciting anti-Semitic hatred.
Le Pen, 93, has been convicted several times before on charges of hate speech that eventually turned into a burden on his daughter Marine, who expelled him from the leadership of the National Front party in 2015 in an attempt to improve her image.