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CRIME

French far-right candidate Zemmour convicted of hate speech again

A French court on Monday found far-right presidential hopeful Eric Zemmour guilty of racist hate speech for a tirade against unaccompanied child migrants.

Eric Zemmour on the campaign trail in France
Eric Zemmour on the campaign trail. Photo: Bertrand Guay/AFP

Zemmour drew widespread outrange in September 2020 when he told the CNews channel that child migrants were “thieves, killers, they’re rapists. That’s all they are. We should send them back”.

Zemmour, a media pundit who is struggling to assemble the endorsements from elected officials he needs to compete in April’s presidential vote, did not show up in court to hear the verdict, having already skipped his trial in November.

The court fined him €10,000, which can be paid in installments. He could be jailed if he fails to pay the sum.

Zemmour’s lawyer, Olivier Pardo, said he would appeal the verdict.

The case was “nothing other than another attempt to intimidate me”, Zemmour said last year, adding that “they won’t shut me up”.

The journalist and author has two previous convictions for hate speech and has been investigated 16 times in total over incendiary remarks on immigration and Islam.

OPINION: Zemmour wont worry Macron, but he should worry France

In 2011, he was fined €10,000 for claiming on TV that “most drug dealers are black and Arab”. In 2018, he was ordered to pay €3,000 for comments about a Muslim “invasion” of France.

His dramatic entrance into front-line politics after a career spent in the media sent waves through the French ruling class in September, making him briefly the most talked-about challenger to President Emmanuel Macron.

Since then, however, ratings have slumped and he has admitted that he is struggling to get the necessary 500 endorsements from local politicians in order to be officially placed on the ballot paper.

READ ALSO Why French village mayors could sink Zemmour’s presidential bid

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IMMIGRATION

French police clear Channel migrant camps after violence leaves one dead

Police dismantled a camp housing hundreds of migrants near Dunkirk in northern France on Wednesday after one person was killed and three wounded in suspected score-settling between smugglers, authorities said.

French police clear Channel migrant camps after violence leaves one dead

Around 500 people, mainly Iraqi Kurds, had been living at the wooded site in Loon-Plage, near a canal that often serves as a key launching point for boats hoping to cross the English Channel for Britain.

Buses stood by to bring the migrants to shelters, but most left instead on foot, carrying what belongings they could.

On Monday night, one migrant was shot and killed and another wounded by what volunteer aid workers described as machine gun fire, the day after two others were also shot and wounded, one seriously.

Ammunition from “weapons of war” were found, Dunkirk’s state prosecutor Sebastian Pieve had told AFP on Tuesday, and a clash between rival smuggling groups was “a theory, but it’s not easy to establish”.

“But it’s certain that human trafficking is the backdrop to this,” he said.

Dawan, a 32-year-old Kurd, would say only “mafia, mafia” when asked by AFP about the shootings.

He said he had recently paid €1,600 to a smuggler who said he would get him to England after spending five months in France, but the man disappeared the next day.

Claire Millot of the Salam migrant aid group said most volunteer associations had quit operating at Loon-Plage out of security fears, adding that Africans and other nationalities had recently been seen in an area usually occupied mainly by Kurds.

More than 7,000 migrants have managed to cross the busy shipping lane and reach the British coast since January, after the number of arrivals tripled to over 28,000 last year — which saw at least 30 migrants die while trying.

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