Two years after his daughter Marine Le Pen, former president of FN Jean-Marie Le Pen was indicted Friday in Paris in the case of allegedly fictitious jobs of the far-right party in the European Parliament.
Co-founded by the examining magistrates Claire Thépaut and Dominique Blanc, the co-founder of the frontiste party, renamed Rassemblement national (RN), was heard for more than four hours at the Paris court.
After this interrogation, he was indicted for "embezzlement of public funds" and "complicity in this crime," told AFP his lawyers, Frederic Joachim and Francois Wagner.
"It was very long," the former 91-year-old former National Front leader told AFP, who was moving with a cane and appeared visibly weakened at the end of the audition. .
"The investigating judges ask a lot of questions about a case that I consider a political scam set up several years ago" to "persecute the Eurosceptics," denounced Mr. Le Pen, who sat in the European Parliament of 1984 to 2019.
According to his lawyers, the magistrates questioned him on the jobs of three of his assistants: Gaël Nofri, employee three months in 2011, his bodyguard Thierry Légier for the period from 2004 to 2011 and Jean-François Jalkh between 2009 and 2014.
A new hearing must take place "probably end of October", "to go into more detail" of the facts that are alleged against him, said Joachim. According to Mr Le Pen's entourage, he could be heard on 25 October.
- "Instigator" -
Already summoned on April 11 in this case, Mr. Le Pen, who was expelled from the FN in 2015 after polemical comments on the Holocaust, refused to go to the judges, considering himself still protected by his immunity of MEP. The latter was however lifted by the European Parliament, at the request of the French courts, on 12 March.
The investigating magistrates suspect the RN and its leaders of having set up "in a concerted and deliberate manner" a "system of diversion" of the envelopes allocated by the EU to each deputy to pay parliamentary associates, in order to allow the party to save money on his wages.
The damage was estimated by the European Parliament at almost 7 million euros for the period 2009-2017.
"We want to present it as the instigator and great genius of a financial system for the benefit of the National Front," said Joachim, denouncing a "foray of the judiciary into the legislative power."
"France is the only country in Europe where there is a criminal procedure for use + non-compliant + funds allocated to assistants," said his colleague, François Wagner, denying any embezzlement of public funds.
"There were no fictitious jobs," he said. "People worked privately, the main grievance was working for the Front".
In this case, about twenty indictments were pronounced, including that of Marine Le Pen, president of the RN and daughter of Mr. Le Pen, the former companion of the latter Louis Aliot or the Wallerand party treasurer of Saint-Just, for "embezzlement of public funds" or complicity.
The RN is also pursued in this investigation, strongly contested by the party and its president, but that the Court of Cassation has validated on February 19th.
The Modem and LFI are also targeted by investigations into the alleged fictitious use of European parliamentary assistants. Several executives of the Modem, including François Bayrou and Marielle de Sarnez, were heard this week by investigators.
© 2019 AFP