Le Pen 'Nazi trial' under way

Dec. 15, 2007 at 3:25 PM

PARIS, Dec. 15 (UPI) -- French far-right extremist Jean-Marie Le Pen faces a year in prison if he is convicted of denying Nazi crimes against humanity.

Le Pen, 79, is charged with violating France's Holocaust denial legislation, Britain's Telegraph reported Saturday, noting Le Pen's trial, originally scheduled for last spring, was postponed until now to allow him to run for president of France.

Le Pen claimed in an newspaper interview in 2005 that the Nazi occupation of France was "not particularly inhumane," the Telegraph reported. In the same interview, Le Pen partially exonerated the German army over a massacre in the town of Villeneuve d'Ascq, the Telegraph reported.

Le Pen claimed the massacre was the work of a lieutenant "mad with rage" and the Gestapo intervened to stop the killings, the Telegraph reported.

French legal experts say Le Pen may be acquitted because he was expressing opinions rather than specifically denying war crimes occurred.

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