Jean-Marie Le Pen testified in a Paris courtroom to appeal his conviction for “contesting” and “apologizing” for the Holocaust.
On Wednesday, the head of the extreme-right National Front Party, took the stand Wednesday to protest a Feb. 8 ruling for “complicity by apology for war crimes” and “complicity by contesting crimes against humanity.”
Le Pen was slapped with a 10,000 euro fine and three months in prison in part for telling the right-wing magazine Rivaroli in 2005 that “the German occupation wasn’t particularly inhumane even if there were some blunders — inevitable in a country of 550,000 square [kilomerters].”
The conservative leader has endured legal punishment before for publicly doubting the Shoah and trivializing it as “a detail of history.” As Le Pen doesn’t always appear at similar trials against him, the French media inferred that he considered Wednesday’s trial particularly important.
The Association of Jewish Boys and Girls Deported from France, led by Serge Klarsfeld, is part of the prosecution team, and some 40 of its members were at the courthouse entrance wearing yellow Star of David pins.
“We suffered so much from the German occupation, so it’s painful for us to hear that it’s nothing that important,” said Klarsfeld in an interview with the JTA at the courthouse.
Le Pen repeatedly has defended his 2005 comments as “off the record,” and on Wednesday did not deny making them, according to the Associated Press.
He called the accusations against him a “ridiculous inanity,” pointing out that he himself was a “victim of war” who lost his father at the age of 14 to the conflict, the AP reported.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.