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FRANCE

Jean-Marie Le Pen takes Front National to court over membeship suspension

Jean-Marie Le Pen (R) arrives at the courthouse in Nanterre
Jean-Marie Le Pen (R) arrives at the courthouse in Nanterre Reuters/Charles Platiau
2 min

The founding father of France's Front National (FN) Jean-Marie Le Pen took his own party to court on Friday to fight his suspension from membership over controversial remarks about the Nazis and World War II. The party's executive is also meeting to discuss scrapping the post of honorary president, currently held by Le Pen.

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Le Pen arrived at the court in Nanterre, just outside Paris, flanked by police and bodyguards and was greeted by a boisterous crowd of journalists and onlookers.

One cameraman was even arrested in the scrimmage.

The 87-year-old cofounder of the FN argued that the committee that suspended him did not have the right to do so and that, legally speaking, his position of honorary president does not depend on him being a member, so the party should give him back the title and the credit card that goes with it.

His daughter Marine, a trained lawyer who now leads the party, said she has no worries about the legal basis of the suspension.

She and her allies suspended her father after he described the gas chambers as a "detail" of World War II and declared his sympathy for supporters of the collaborationist government of Marshall Philippe Pétain, statements that compromise her attempt to rebrand the party.

The court will deliver its judgement on 2 July.

The FN's leadership met on Friday to decide whether to scrap the honorary presidency by an "extraordinary congress" held by postal vote and, if so, how the procedure would be carried out.

Although some members don't want to go that far, there seems to be general agreement on the need to rein in Le Pen père and reform the party structures, including reforming the central committee and changing its name, judged too redolent of the communist parties of the 20th century.

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