LILLE, France (Reuters) - French far-right leader Marine Le Pen was fined 10,000 euros on Thursday over fake flyers distributed by National Front workers during 2012 legislative elections pretending to show a far-left rival calling for “Arab” votes in Arabic.
The flyer, showing a picture of Jean-Luc Melenchon by the words “No future for France without Arabs - Vote Melenchon!”, was distributed in a voting district of the northern Pas-de-Calais area where he was running against Le Pen.
While both Le Pen and Melenchon were defeated then by a candidate for the ruling Socialist Party, the National Front last month secured the local town of Henin-Beaumont in mayoral elections where it won control of a record 10 other town halls.
A local court found Le Pen guilty of fraud over the flyer, manufactured and handed out by party activists. Her lawyer said she rejected the ruling and planned to appeal.
During a live TV debate with Melenchon in 2012, Le Pen held up the fake flyer, saying the quote on it was drawn from a speech he had delivered in the port city of Marseille.
Melenchon did not dispute the quote but said the flyer was fraudulent because it pretended to be from his camp.
Reporting By Pierre Savary; Writing by Nicholas Vinocur; editing by Mark John