French judges ask for Le Pen's parliamentary immunity to be lifted

French judges ask for Le Pen's parliamentary immunity to be lifted

French judges ask for Le Pen's parliamentary immunity to be lifted

Opinion polls project Le Pen winning the first round of voting on April 23 but losing in the second round a fortnight later, most likely to independent challenger Emmanuel Macron, a former economy minister under outgoing President Francois Hollande.

French prosecutors have asked the European parliament to lift the immunity of far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen over an inquiry into alleged fake parliamentary jobs, legal sources said on April 14, 2017.

According to reports, Paris's prosecutor's office launched an investigation in 2015 to look into the European Union parliamentary assistants fraudulently paid for their services with European Union funds while working for Le Pen's National Front (FN) party.

The Paris prosecutor's office said Friday that investigating judges issued the request, and it is being transmitted by the French government to the European Parliament.

His anti-EU, anti-globalization rhetoric echoes that of chief rival Marine Le Pen. The parliament did not comment on the move Friday but several procedural steps are still required before the legislature might hold a vote on it.

"It's a totally normal procedure, I'm not surprised", she told France Info radio.

Ms Le Pen has, in turn, denied any links with racists, anti-Semities or xenophobes and is convinced she can appeal to moderate voters.

But in this year's extraordinary contest, neither of France's usually dominant parties - the Socialists and the conservative Republicans - is expected to see their candidate get past the first round on April 23.

Last month, her immunity was lifted in a separate case, over the tweeting of pictures of ISIL violence.

A strong performance by a candidate who wants a referendum on France's membership of the European Union could unnerve financial markets, anxious by the prospect of another upset after Britons voted to leave the EU a year ago.

This would mean both qualifying for the run-off scheduled for May 7, which polls suggest Macron would win comfortably - although analysts caution against firm predictions.

"I hope Le Pen does not become French president", he added.

Investors are growing more cautious about France and the euro ahead of an unpredictable presidential election in the eurozone's second-biggest economy.

Facebook and French media are also running fact-checking programs in France to combat misleading information, especially around the presidential campaign.

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