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French court confirms ruling to reinstate Jean-Marie Le Pen

Jean-Marie Le Pen at the High Court of Nanterre, 12 June
Jean-Marie Le Pen at the High Court of Nanterre, 12 June Reuters/Charles Platiau

A French court has confirmed a ruling suspending a vote by far-right Front National (FN) members who had hoped to strip the party's long-time leader Jean-Marie Le Pen of his title of honorary president. In its judgment, the Court of Appeal of Versailles "confirmed in its entirety" the decision on 8 July by the judges of the High Court of Nanterre, near Paris, to restore all of Le Pen's rights as a member, "specifically that of honorary president".

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It ruled that the FN's executive did not have the right to suspend Le Pen, providing a new legal victory to the patriarch in conflict with his daughter, Marine, who now leads the party.

He had been suspended after he repeated a claim that the Nazi gas chambers were a "detail of World War II" and made other provocative remarks.

Le Pen has since been indicted for those remarks on charges of denying crimes against humanity, according to French news agency AFP.

The latest court decision is the climax of a period of tension between the 87-year-old former leader and his daughter, who is trying to revamp the party's image.

It forces the FN to organise a convention instead of a postal vote in order to determine Jean-Marie Le Pen's status, in line with the party's statutes. Marine Le Pen has said she wants to avoid organising such an event at all costs, saying she did not want to rent the "Stade de France ".

The "illegal choice of a postal vote" deprived him "of all means of expression", the court ruled.

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