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EU parliamentary committee lifts Marine le Pen's immunity over tweets

The far-right member of the European Parliament is facing charges in France for posting graphic images on Twitter. Losing parliamentary immunity means she faces potential fines of 75,000 euros.

The European Union Parliament voted on Tuesday to lift the EU parliamentary immunity of its member and French Presidential candidate Marine Le Pen for posting photos from the so-called "Islamic State" (IS) on Twitter.

MEPs in the legal affairs committee of the European legislature "overwhelmingly voted to lift Le Pen's immunity," Laura Ferrara, who is in charge of the dossier, told news agency Reuters.

The committee's vote still needs to be confirmed by the whole legislature. Ferrara said no date had been decided yet for the vote in the plenary.

Le Pen is under investigation in France for posting three graphic images of IS executions in 2015, including one of the beheading of the United States journalist James Foley.

The vote to remove her immunity as an MEP opened her up to legal action. The offence being considered is "publishing violent images," which under certain circumstances can carry a penalty of three years in prison and a fine of 75,000 euros ($79,650), according to Reuters.

Latest poll - and a scare for Hollande

In the latest Ifop opinion poll in France, Le Pen was tipped to take 25,5 percent of votes in the first round of the presidential vote in late April. Her main opponent, centrist Emmanuel Macron, followed her with 24 percent and Francois Fillon trailed him with 20.5 percent. In the second round, Macron would win by 62 percent to Le Pen's 38 percent, according to the poll's result.

In a separate incident in France on Tuesday, a police sharpshooter accidentally fired his weapon during a speech being made by President Francois Hollande as he inaugurated a new fast train line in the western town of Villognon. Two people were slightly injured. 

aw/jm (Reuters)

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