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Jean-Marie Le Pen fined for dubbing Roma thieves

media Bruno Golnish (g.) et Marine Le Pen (d.), encadrant Jean-Marie Le Pen (c.), au Parlement européen, le 11 décembre 2013. Reuters/Vincent Kessler

Jean-Marie Le Pen, the founder of France's Front National (FN) has been fined 5,000 euros for accusing the Roma population of being habitual thieves.

A Paris court on Thursday found the 85-year-old Le Pen guilty of publicly insulting a group of people based on their ethnicity after comments he made about the Roma at a rally last September.

Several anti-racist groups were plaintiffs in the case, saying that the comment was a racist insult. 

Le Pen's lawyer, Wallerand de Saint-Just, argued his client, who has repeatedly been convicted of inciting racial hatred and holocaust denial, was just joking.

Background reading: Previous French scandals

Le Pen's daughter, Marine, who is the current leader of the FN, has started to revamp the party expelling overtly racist activists and selecting ethnic minority candidates for local elections.

Anti-racist groups have challenged Marine Le Pen to expel her father. 

She has commited herself to expel all candidates who make racist statements, said Jewish students' union leader Jonathan Hayoun, "but I am sure she will not".

Earlier this year the far-right party had to drop a candidate in next year's local council elections because she compared Guianese-born French Justice Minister Christiane Taubira to a monkey.

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