French far-right politician barred from office

18th October 2006, Comments 0 comments

MARSEILLE, France, Oct 18, 2006 (AFP) - The head of a fringe far-right party hoping to stand in France's presidential election next year was convicted on Wednesday of embezzling public funds and barred from public office for a year.

MARSEILLE, France, Oct 18, 2006 (AFP) - The head of a fringe far-right party hoping to stand in France's presidential election next year was convicted on Wednesday of embezzling public funds and barred from public office for a year.

Bruno Megret, leader of the National Republican Movement (MNR), founded in 1999 from a split in Jean-Marie Le Pen's National Front (FN), was convicted along with his wife Catherine, former mayor of the southern town of Vitrolles.

Both were handed an eight-month suspended jail sentence and fined 8,000 euros (10,000 dollars) for using Vitrolles city hall funds to send out campaign mailshots for Megret's party, in 2000 and 2001, at a cost of 74,600 euros.

"I am appealing. That will suspend the application of the sentence and I will be a candidate in the presidential and legislative elections of 2007," Megret vowed, speaking to reporters outside the courtroom.

He slammed the verdict as "unfair" and "partisan". "This is not a decision of justice, it's a settling of political scores."

The anti-immigration politician, a former dauphin to Le Pen, scored just over 2.3 percent of votes in the 2002 presidential elections, in which the FN leader beat the Socialist candidate to the run-off against Jacques Chirac.

Faced with the flagging fortunes of his party, however -- it scored around one percent in the last legislative elections -- Megret has offered to strike an alliance with the National Front for next year's elections.

If Le Pen, who has so far dismissed talk of a deal, refuses, Megret has vowed to stand again on his own ticket, though to do so he would need to obtain the signatures of 500 elected officials under French electoral law.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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