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

Judges want to inform her that she is mise en examen, or formally placed under investigation, but can do so only in her presence.

While pollsters had until recently seen little direct impact from these cases on her ratings, Le Pen's refusal to go to a police summons over the European Union funds allegations may have hit her support.

But her lawyer said he was surprised because his client had expressed willingness to answer questions after general elections in June, "depending on results of the presidential vote".

An Ipsos poll for the daily Le Monde out Friday showed Macron and Le Pen on 22 percent for the first round, both down two points in under a week.

Le Pen pursued the softer image even at the expense of her relationship with her father, disowning his comments that Nazi gas chambers were a "detail" of history.

The prosecutors also made a similar request regarding another MEP from Le Pen's party, Marie-Christine Boutonnet, who also avoided questioning.

If elected president - a scenario analysts deem unlikely but not impossible - Le Pen would have immunity from prosecution.

Le Pen's chief of staff Catherine Griset and Charles Hourcade, previously a graphic designer at FN headquarters, were charged with concealment. "This is normal. It's the classic procedure".

In a statement published on her official website, Le Pen called the UOIF the "emanation of the radical Islamist movement of the Muslim Brotherhood in France".

The case concerns suspicions that Le Pen and others in her anti-immigration National Front party used parliamentary aides for party activity while they were on EU-financed salaries.

The EU's anti-fraud agency Olaf asked Ms Le Pen and five other FN deputies to repay salaries of people it considered to be bogus assistants. She had him expelled from the party over his views in 2015. The poll showed Macron winning that face-off with 63 percent of votes.

In a TV debate last week, Ford worker Philippe Poutou, candidate of the New Anticapitalist Party tore into her. Her statement that France was not responsible for the deportation of Jews during the second World War has also hurt her.

Several French journalists and investigative judges received letters with death threats and bullets just weeks from the first round of voting in a presidential election campaign marred by the legal woes of Republican candidate François Fillon. The commission then reports to a plenary session of the parliament, where each deputy votes individually.

"We must close down the Salafist mosques, where hate toward France is preached, and secret schools where they teach behavior incompatible with the French way of life", Le Pen told Poland's Rzeczpospolita newspaper.

  • Leroy Wright