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Jean-Marie Le Pen to appeal to European rights court over Roma racism conviction

Reuters/Jean-Paul Pelissier

The Paris court of appeal on Thursday upheld a fine of 5,000 euros against Jean-Marie Le Pen, honorary president of the far-right Front National for implying Roma were thieves. He says he will appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.

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The case goes back to September 2012 when Le Pen mimicked a Roma at the FN summer school in La Baule, western France.

The former head of the anti-immigration party was greeted with laughter and applause

when he said, “We are like birds, we fly naturally", a play on words on the French words for fly and to steal.

In December 2013 Le Pen was condemned for publicly insulting a group of people on the basis of their ethnicity.

Le Pen appealed against the conviction but on Thursday it was upheld, although the appeals court reduced the charge to “complicity in ao public insult" since the racist comments were widely broadcast on the FN website.

Mario Pierre Stasi, a lawyer for anti-racist group Licra, expressed satisfaction that the courts recognise racism is not an opinion, but a crime.

Le Pen’s lawyer Wallerand de Saint-Just said the court decision was an infringement of freedom of speech and his client would take the case to the European Court of Human Rights.

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