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Le Pen summoned over allegations of misuse of EU funds

Le Pen summoned over allegations of misuse of EU funds
French right-wing leader and a presidential candidate, Marine Le Pen, has been summoned by judges over the alleged misuse of EU funds, according to her lawyer. It is suspected that Le Pen’s staff were fictitiously employed at the European Parliament as assistants.

The National Front leader's lawyer said Le Pen will not attend proceedings before the end of the current election campaign. 

"Of course she won't go," Le Pen's lawyer, Marcel Ceccaldi said, Reuters reported.

It comes just one day after Le Pen lost her parliamentary immunity for posting graphic photos of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) victims on Twitter in December 2015.

The pictures were accompanied with text which read "Daesh (Arabic term for IS) is THIS!" The tweets were in response to journalist Jean-Jacques Bourdin, who compared Le Pen's nationalist rhetoric to that of the terrorist group.

Le Pen is one of the leading candidates in France’s presidential election campaign, which will be held in two phases in April and May.

It is alleged that Le Pen's bodyguard and chief of staff were paid with EU funds while not doing actual work as parliamentary assistants.

Chief of staff Catherine Griset was charged with breach of trust last month, while bodyguard Thierry Legier was detained and interrogated. He was later released without any charges pressed against him.

Le Pen has slammed the probe as a “political plot” against her, stressing that voters will not fall for the tactic.

The French can tell the difference between genuine scandals and political dirty tricks,” she said last month, as quoted by Reuters.

The National Front't headquarters was raided as part of the probe in February, while Le Pen was on a trip abroad.

The European Parliament previously ordered Le Pen to pay back a total of 336,146 euros (US$353,000) to compensate for improper payments. She refused to return the funds, appealing the decision and claiming that the jobs of her staff were legitimate.