Le Pen Refuses to Be Questioned by French Police on EU ExpensesBy , , and
Nationalist says she won’t be interviewed before election
French police issued non-binding summons to Le Pen Wednesday
Presidential candidate Marine Le Pen refused to be interviewed by police investigating her use of a European parliamentary allowance to pay for party work in France.
Le Pen rejected a non-binding summons from French investigators on Wednesday, the prosecutors’ office said, confirming an earlier report in Le Monde newspaper.
The National Front leader informed the police by letter that she won’t be questioned before the end of the June legislative elections, her lawyer Rodolphe Bosselut said. Le Pen has not been ordered to answer questions, the prosecutor’s office said. Bosselut urged the prosecutors to back off until after the election to avoid interfering with the democratic process.
“We are seeing a sudden rush in the procedure which relates to an old complaint,” Bosselut said in a telephone interview. “You have to ask why everything is accelerating and Madame has been summoned two months before a major election date.”
Le Pen is favorite to win the first round of France’s presidential election on April 23, but polls suggest she will lose heavily in the run-off on May 7 whomever she faces. While Republican rival Francois Fillon has been hurt by a separate investigation into the alleged use of French parliamentary funds, supporters of Le Pen’s campaign to overturn the elites in Paris and Brussels may be encouraged by a show of defiance against the authorities.
The anti-euro candidate has refused an order from the European Parliament to repay about 336,000 euros ($356,000) in funds which the chamber says were used inappropriately. Le Pen has appealed the decision.
Two aides to Le Pen were arrested Wednesday after investigators raided her National Front party’s headquarters earlier in the week as part of the probe into whether she improperly used European money to pay their salaries.
Le Pen’s chief of staff was charged late on Wednesday as the candidate brushed off allegations that she misused European Parliament funds, saying the allegations were politically motivated. Her aide was charged for received misappropriated funds, according to the Paris prosecutor’s office. A second aide, Le Pen’s body guard, was also and then released without being charged.