No Legal Relief for French Candidates

No Legal Relief for French Candidates

France's presidential frontrunners Francois Fillon and far-right leader Marine Le Pen can expect no let-up in legal investigations targeting them ahead of elections two months away, the justice minister said on Sunday.
The independence and neutrality of the justice system are under scrutiny ahead of a two-stage presidential election in April and May amid several high-profile probes into Fillon and Le Pen, AFP reported.
Both are accused of misusing public money by using fake parliamentary aides, while Le Pen faces a separate investigation into the funding of election campaigns in 2014 and 2015.
They deny wrongdoing and have sought to portray the investigations as politically motivated, saying they should be delayed or abandoned altogether.
"Imagine that during the presidential campaign you can't investigate?" Justice Minister Jean-Jacques Urvoas told the Journal du Dimanche newspaper.
"There is no law allowing a suspension like that. What would be the reason? In the name of what exception? In my opinion, nothing could justify it."
Urvoas said that in the past, judges had sometimes taken into account the electoral calendar when fixing trial dates, but judicial investigations had never been put on ice.

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