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EU Lawmakers Consider Lifting Marine Le Pen's Immunity Over Tweets


FILE - Marine Le Pen, French National Front political party leader and candidate for French 2017 presidential elections, speaks at a news conference in Paris, France, Feb. 23, 2017.

European Union lawmakers will decide on Tuesday whether to lift the EU parliament immunity of France's far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen for tweeting pictures of Islamic State violence, an EU official said.

Le Pen is under investigation in France for three graphic images of IS executions she posted on Twitter in 2015, including the beheading of the United States journalist James Foley, the EU official told Reuters.

Responding to a request from the French judiciary, the EU lawmakers will consider whether her posts were appropriate to the role of a European deputy, the official said. A decision was expected later on Tuesday.

Le Pen, locked in an increasingly tight three-way race to succeed Francois Hollande this spring, has already seen her earnings as MEP cut for a different case involving alleged misuse of EU funds.

She has denounced the legal proceedings against her as political interference in the campaign, where she is the lead candidate, and called for a moratorium on judicial investigations until the election period has passed.

Polls say Le Pen should win the first of the two election rounds but lose in the runoff. They also show that her legal battles seem to have little effect on her loyal electorate.

A European Parliament draft report supports the lifting of Le Pen's immunity, but will need the approval of the legislature's legal affairs committee, the official said.

The committee's vote will then have to be backed by the whole parliament before any decision can be applied.

EU lawmakers usually decide to lift the immunity of European deputies if requested. Last year, they did so in 22 cases out of 26 requests from judges, the EU official said.

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