French far-right party to face campaign finance fraud trial

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Paris (AFP)

France's far-right National Front (FN) party and two of its senior officials have been ordered to stand trial for alleged election campaign spending fraud, sources close to the case told AFP Thursday.

Investigating magistrates have accused the FN and its treasurer Wallerand de Saint-Just and one of its vice-presidents, Jean-Francois Jalkh, of fraud, abuse of trust and misuse of assets.

The party's leader Marine Le Pen was questioned by investigators but has not been charged.

The case concerns the alleged abuse of millions of euros of government money paid to reimburse campaign spending in both the 2012 legislative and presidential elections.

Investigators suspect the party exaggerated its expenses to claim more than it was due.

The party and both officials deny any wrongdoing.

Le Pen is tipped to reach the second-round runoff in next year's presidential election.

Her 88-year-old father and the FN's founder, Jean-Marie Le Pen, returned to court on Wednesday in the latest round of his battle to overturn his exclusion from the party ordered by his daughter, Marine.

She had him kicked out last year over a string of inflammatory comments that were undermining her efforts to make the anti-immigration party more palatable to the public.