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French MP fined for saying Hitler 'did not kill enough' Roma

The MP has already said that he is going to appeal the €3,000 fine.

Hitler addressing the Nazi Party at Nuremburg in 1935.
Hitler addressing the Nazi Party at Nuremburg in 1935.
Image: AP/Press Association Images

A FRENCH COURT has fined an MP €3,000 for saying that Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler “maybe did not kill enough” Roma.

The appeals court in the Western town of Angers yesterday slapped the fine on Gilles Bourdouleix, who is also mayor of the nearby town of Cholet.

The 54-year-old was involved in an altercation in July last year during a visit to a field in his commune that was occupied illegally by a Travellers’ community.

Accused of racism and assailed by Hitler salutes, Bourdouleix mumbled to a journalist that “maybe Hitler didn’t kill enough of them”.

A local French paper carried a report the next day with his comments and the resulting uproar forced him to resign from his party, the centrist UDI.

In January, he was convicted for condoning a crime against humanity and fined €3,000 but the fine was suspended.

But both the prosecution and Bourdouleix appealed, the latter saying he was innocent given the context in which he spoke.

Justifying the appeal, Bourdouleix’s lawyer, Pierre Brossard, said:

When you think of the Hitler salutes, the ‘Heil Hitlers’, the threats his wife received, the context is important.

Even the prosecutor, Olivier Tcherkassof, acknowledged that the words were uttered in an unusually hostile context, although he denounced the “intolerable” sentiments expressed.

But, in the ruling obtained by AFP, the court decided:

“By publicly voicing — at a volume sufficiently loud to be recorded — his regret that the crime against humanity carried by the German authorities against travellers during the Second World War did not go far enough, the accused indeed condoned” the crime.

‘Violent verbal outburst’

Bourdouleix was not in court to hear the ruling but Brossard said his client would lodge a further appeal, saying it would be a “long legal process”.

However, the anti-racism group SOS Racisme, said in a statement that Travellers were “among the most stigmatised and discriminated against groups in Europe.”

Bourdouleix has a history of conflict with the Traveller community. In 2006, he launched a petition to 36,500 mayors in France, demanding that local authorities be given the power to order police to remove people occupying ground illegally.

In November 2012, he threatened to resign after around 20 caravans appeared in a business park in his area, speaking of a “new invasion.” The travellers left the next day.

In addition to his €3,000 fine, the MP was ordered to pay €600 euros for defaming the reporter who had published his comments in the paper, whom he called a “little shit.”

Bourdouleix initially denied saying this and claimed that the recording — placed on line by the paper — had been “manipulated.”

The Roma, a nomadic people whose ancestors left India centuries ago, have long suffered from discrimination and are frequently accused of carrying out petty crimes.

They were killed in their hundreds of thousands by the Nazis during the Second World War, alongside Jews and homosexuals.

- © AFP, 2014

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