French judges to European Parliament: lift Le Pen's immunity

For the first time she attacked Jean-Luc Melenchon, the far-left candidate who's gaining in the polls.

Her rivals are "incapable" of protecting the French from Muslim fundamentalism, Le Pen said in the interview, pledging to expel "the day after my election" foreign nationals on a security list for suspected links to radical Muslim groups.

She is one of the frontrunners in the first round vote to be held on April 23.

The Ipsos-Sopra Sterna poll for daily Le Monde showed centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right leader Marine Le Pen tied on 22 percent each in the April 23 first round, with the far-left's Jean-Luc Melenchon and conservative Francois Fillon on 20 and 19 percent respectively.

Investigating judges issued at the end of March a request to lift Le Pen immunity so that she would be questioned into the allegation that she used European fund to pay her party staff, local broadcaster Europe 1 reported. The leader of the National Front party, on track to make it through to the run-off election on May 7, has recently seen her momentum slowed.

The current scenario spooking markets is that soft support for Macron and Fillon would lead to a runoff between Le Pen and Mélenchon: a showdown between two Euroskeptic populists on opposite fringes of the political spectrum.

Rodolphe Bosselut, Le Pen's attorney, said in February that she won't comply with any summons until after the election.

Le Pen's denial this week that the French state bore any responsibility for the mass arrest of Jews in Paris during World War Two may also have dented her ratings.

Surveys show Le Pen would be beaten by any of the other three main contenders at this point but analysts have warned of a possible upset, after Britain's shock vote to quit the European Union and Donald Trump's election in the USA, both of which pollsters failed to predict.

Le Pen, who has denied misusing parliamentary funds, shrugged off the move, saying it was "normal".

In a TV debate last week, Ford worker Philippe Poutou, candidate of the New Anticapitalist Party tore into her. She enjoys immunity from prosecution as a European Parliament member.

Investigators raided the FN's headquarters outside Paris last month over the affair. A top Le Pen aide was charged in the case with receiving money through a breach of trust.

Those pictures saw her placed under investigation for "dissemination of violent images".

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