French far-right firebrand Jean-Marie Le Pen, is set to face criminal proceedings for saying that the gas chambers of the Holocaust were “a detail of World War II”.

The founder of the National Front (FN) and European Parliament member Le Pen told French TV station BFMTV on April 2, “Gas chambers were a detail of the war, unless we accept that the war is a detail of the gas chambers.”

Le Pen will be prosecuted for denying crimes against humanity, but the court date has yet to be set.

On hearing of that he will have to face a French court for his comments, Le Pen, 87, blustered that he was being “persecuted” by the justice system.

“I thought that millions of French people had marched for freedom of expression,” he told AFP on Friday, in reference to the national outpouring of grief after the Charlie Hebdo terror attacks in January.

“I thought that included the right to blaspheme. And this is blasphemy, isn’t it? It is after all an almost religious point.”

Marine Le Pen, Jean Marie’s daughter, who took over as FN party leader in 2011 and has been trying to distance the party from its overtly racist and anti-Semitic past, suspended her father from the party in May. However, he sued the FN and a French court ordered the party to cancel his suspension on July 2.

His latest comments were by no means the only time Le Pen has shocked with remarks about the gas chambers.

The first time he made similar comments was in September 1987. He repeated them in 1997 in Germany and then in 2008 and 2009 in the European Parliament.

Le Pen is also facing accusations that he had stashed 2.2 million euros in a secret Swiss bank account. Le Pen’s financial dealings have apparently caught the attention of France’s anti-fraud and money laundering agency, Tracfin.

From France24 . 2015-07-24

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