Summons comes one day after Le Pen stripped of immunity
Lawyer: Le Pen will not meet with the magistrate until after the campaign
French far-right leader Marine Le Pen was summoned by a judge Friday over allegations of misusing European Union funds, her lawyer told CNN.
But Le Pen’s lawyer says the politician – one of the frontrunners in the French presidential race – will not meet with the magistrate until after the campaign. She was summoned for a meeting next Friday.
The development comes one day after the European Parliament stripped the National Front leader of immunity from prosecution over a separate case.
Le Pen’s bid for the French presidency became embroiled in controversy last month after several members of her staff were accused by officials of being paid for nonexistent jobs at the European Parliament.
Catherine Griset, Le Pen’s chief of staff, was formally charged as part of a probe into the allegations last week, and Le Pen’s bodyguard Thierry Legier is also being investigated.
Le Pen, a deputy in the European Parliament, initially admitted they had been paid while not working, the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) said. She later denied having said so.
Le Pen is not the only presidential hopeful facing a “fake jobs” scandal – embattled candidate François Fillon is facing calls to quit the race amid an ongoing inquiry into allegations that he paid his wife and children for work they did not do. Fillon has rejected the claims.
Le Pen loses immunity
The controversial politician’s fractious relationship with Europe was further exacerbated when members of European Parliament voted to rescind her parliamentary immunity on Thursday over a case involving violent images she posted on Twitter.
Le Pen is under investigation in France over tweets she sent in December 2015 that showed images of killings by ISIS militants, including the beheading of US journalist James Foley.
The lifting of Le Pen’s immunity relates to this case only, and any action is unlikely to occur before the first round of voting in the French presidential election on April 23.
On Thursday, Le Pen told CNN she wasn’t worried about her immunity being lifted.
“I notice that freedom of expression of an EU member of Parliament who denounces the actions of ISIS allows the French government to take her to court,” she said. “I will express myself in court and say what I think of all this.”
French prosecutors accused Le Pen of distributing violent images, which is prohibited under French law. The maximum penalty for distributing violent images is three years in prison and a fine of up to €75,000 ($79,000).
The loss of her immunity on Thursday did not relate to the case being investigated by OLAF.