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Zemmour, acquitted after being tried for questioning a crime against humanity

Eric Zemour. / afp

The former presidential candidate has tried in recent years to rehabilitate the figure of Pétain, sentenced to death for “high treason” after the Second World War

The Paris Court of Appeal confirmed on Thursday the acquittal pronounced in the first instance of the far-right politician Éric Zemmour, tried in France for questioning a crime against humanity.

Zemmour, a Jew of Berber origin, had assured in October 2019 during a television debate on CNews that Marshal Philippe Pétain, leader of Nazi-collaborating France, had “saved French Jews” during World War II.

During the first instance trial, Zemmour defended himself against the accusations. And he considered that it is historians and not justice that should decide on the question of the role of the Vichy regime in what happened to French Jewish citizens during the conflict.

The far-right had been acquitted by a court of first instance. But the prosecution appealed the decision and asked for a 10,000 euro fine for the polemicist. The Court of Appeal today gave the reason to Zemmour.

His lawyer, Olivier Pardo, was satisfied with the court’s decision. “It’s a message to all those who want to launch vile attacks, using WWII dramas for political purposes. He won freedom of expression », said his lawyer in statements to the French press. Zemmour did not appear in court.

The former presidential candidate, who was a journalist before entering politics, has tried in recent years to rehabilitate the figure of Pétain, sentenced to death for “high treason” after the Second World War. General Charles de Gaulle, who led the French resistance against Nazi Germany, commuted his sentence, due to his advanced age, to life imprisonment.

Zemmour has been sentenced three times for inciting racial hatred, two of them definitively. The last time he was convicted was last January. A Paris court sentenced him to pay a fine of 10,000 euros for statements he made in 2020 about unaccompanied foreign minors, whom he branded as delinquents and criminals. Zemmour has appealed that ruling.

In May 2023, the far-right will once again sit in the dock for defamation for statements he made in 2019 about the feminist and LGBT movements.

On the other hand, Zemmour announced today that he will stand as a candidate for the fourth constituency of the Var department (southeastern France) in the legislative elections on June 12 and 19, in which the 577 seats in the National Assembly are renewed. Reconquista, Zemmour’s party, will present a total of 550 candidates for these elections.

Zemmour will try to win a deputy seat in the National Assembly after failing in the presidential elections in April. The Reconquista candidate only achieved 7% of the votes in the first round of the presidential elections and was eliminated in the race for the Elysée Palace. In Var, the department where Saint-Tropez is located, the far-right leader won 14% of the vote in those elections, twice as much as at the national level.

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