Brussels, March 3: The European Parliament on Thursday voted to withdraw the immunity of French Presidential candidate Marine Le Pen as a consequence of her tweet consisting pictures of ISIS violence.
Le Pen, who leads National Front Party in the European legislature, had been under investigation for posting three graphic images of IS executions on Twitter on 16th December 2015, which included the beheading of American journalist James Foley.
Approved by 18 votes to 3 with no abstentions, the Committee on Legal Affairs in the European Parliament on Tuesday recommended waiving off Le Pen’s immunity to be prosecuted through a plenary vote.
Le Pen’s actions were seen as inappropriate of a member of European Parliament, the report of the Parliament stated. In the same report that underpinned the parliament's decision, Eurosceptic 5 Star Movement lawmaker Laura Ferrara said that although the images posted by Le Pen were easily accessible on several websites, "it does not alter the fact that their violent nature is likely to undermine human dignity."
The offence being considered is "publishing violent images", which under certain circumstances can carry a penalty of three years in prison and a fine of 75,000 euros ($78,930). Le Pen has denounced the legal proceedings against her as political interference in the campaign and called for a moratorium on judicial investigations until the election period has passed.
Le Pen's immunity had been lifted earlier in 2013 as well for comparing Muslims praying in public to the Nazi occupation of France during World War II. Prosecutors had eventually recommended the charges be dropped.
The lifting of her immunity this time, however, has only to do with the tweets concerning images showing ISIS violence and not with another ongoing investigation of allegations of misused public funds by hiring a fake parliamentary aide.
Marine Le Pen is one of the major contenders in France’s Presidential election race, which will be held in April 2017. According to polls, Le Pen will win the first of the two election rounds but lose in the runoff. They also show that her legal battles seem to have little effect on her supporters.