PARIS (Jun. 20)
Interior Minister Pierre Joxe is suing Jean-Marie Le Pen, leader of the extreme right-wing National Front, for libeling him in connection with the desecration of the Jewish cemetery in Carpentras last month.
Joxe also has asked the Parliament of Europe to lift Le Pen’s immunity.
On Tuesday, Le Pen claimed the interior minister had ordered evidence in Carpentras destroyed to cover the traces of the real perpetrators of the desecration, in order to lay the blame on supporters of the National Front.
Police in Carpentras last week arrested four teen-agers for vandalism of 24 Jewish graves in the cemetery, which took place during the night of May 9-10. But all of the suspects have been released, and the investigation has hit a dead end.
In the aftermath of the desecration, in which the recently buried body of an 80-year-old man was exhumed, many prominent French figures blamed the deed on the atmosphere of racial hatred created by the National Front.
At Joxe’s request, Paris state attorney Pierre Bezard began proceedings against Le Pen on Tuesday, charging him with “libel against a Cabinet minister.”
Bezard also forwarded a request to the European Parliament to suspend Le Pen’s diplomatic immunity. Le Pen is a deputy to the European Community legislative body, which convenes in Strasbourg, France.
The European Parliament has twice before suspended Le Pen’s immunity, in order to enable French authorities to sue him on charges of spreading racial hatred and propaganda.
Le Pen favors deporting North African immigrants. And although he claims not to be anti-Semitic, Le Pen has made snide comments about the Holocaust, which he dismisses as a “footnote to history.”