Published: Fri, September 21, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

France far-right leader ordered to undergo psychiatric tests

France far-right leader ordered to undergo psychiatric tests

Leader of France's Rassemblement National (RN) far-right political party Marine Le Pen gestures as she delivers a speech at a meeting in Fréjus, southern France on September 16, 2018.

The case against Le Pen began in March, after she was stripped of her parliamentary immunity.

Though the law requires psychological assessments in such cases, Le Pen voiced outrage at the decision and said she would defy the order: "I'd like to see how the judge would try to force me to do it".

If convicted, she faces up to three years in prison and a fine of 75,000 euros ($87,000).

Le Pen and her populist party have long insisted they are being unfairly persecuted by France's courts and political establishment as a means to marginalize them. "How far will they go?!" she added. For denouncing the horrors of Daesh in tweets, the "justice system" is putting me through psychiatric tests!

The Paris court today declined to confirm it had ordered the evaluation but said the assessments were a normal part of such probes.

According to a copy of the court document dated September 11, which Le Pen published on Twitter, the judge wants the evaluation to assess if she suffers from any mental illness and, if so, if that could have affected her understanding of what she was doing when she posted the tweets.

Le Pen, who lost the presidential election to Emmanuel Macron in last year's vote, shared the tweets in December 2015, several weeks after ISIL members killed 130 people in attacks in Paris.

One of the pictures showed the body of James Foley, an American journalist beheaded by the Sunni extremists.

The 2017 presidential candidate denounced the order as "mind-blowing", saying: "This regime is really starting to scare [us]".

Experts have told the French media that expert psychiatric tests are run of the mill for people charged with these kind of offences and have not specifically been ordered for Le Pen.

"The argument that this is harassment by the judiciary does not hold water", says an official with the magistrates union.

She later told reporters she would skip the test. She posted the images in response to a journalist's comparison between her far-right party and "Islamic State", which is also known as Daesh. Le Pen wrote on Twitter.

"A court orders a psychiatric assessment for Marine Le Pen".

Le Pen is facing charges relating to a series of tweets in which she posted ISIS propaganda pictures of victims of torture and executions.

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