Leftist French leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon broadcasts police search on party HQ live

Henry Samuel
Jean-Luc Mélenchon broadcast a police search of his France Insoumise party HQ live from his smart phone - REUTERS

French Leftist firebrand Jean-Luc Mélenchon has broken new ground on social media by broadcasting a police raid on his political headquarters from his mobile phone.

A furious Mr Mélenchon, head of France Insoumise (France Unbowed), filmed as eight police officers searched the party headquarters early on Tuesday, which he slammed as an attempted “coup de force” against his party “to scare and intimidate us”.

He broadcast the raid from his smart phone on Facebook.

Police also searched the headquarters of the Parti de Gauche, a Leftist ally, and Mr Mélenchon’s former assistants. A source close to the inquiry told AFP the raids were connected to two preliminary investigations.

One concerns allegations that Mr Mélenchon’s assistants enjoyed fictitious European Parliament jobs when he was MEP. The other concerns his presidential campaign expenditure; Mr Mélenchon came fourth in the first round of French elections last year.

An irate Mr Mélenchon, an admirer of Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro who recently met Jeremy Corbyn at the Labour Party conference, said the searches were based on “trumped-up evidence”.

French far right leader Marine Le Pen is facing charges of embezzlement of public funds over alleged fictitious assistant jobs while MEP  Credit: Michel Spingler/AP

He demanded that police also raid the offices or President Emmanuel Macron and his new interior minister, Christophe Castaner, over their campaign expenditure, as these had been signalled as containing anomalies.

The searches came days after French prosecutors announced they were investigating French far-right leader Marine Le Pen for embezzlement of public funds at the European Parliament, a crime carrying a more maximum 10-year prison sentence and a fine of up to €375,000 (£330,000).

Ms Le Pen had reportedly also tried to film police when they raided her headquarters in 2016. After repeated requests to stop filming with her phone, fraud officers reportedly lunged for the device, which she thrust down her cleavage, daring them to "come and get it".

They declined to take up her challenge, according to l'Express magazine.

Members of Le Pen's National Rally (RN), formerly known as the National Front, are being probed over allegations that they defrauded the EU out of €6.8 million in funding between 2009 and 2017.

Ms Le Pen, along with a dozen other elected figures and the party itself, are accused of using funds available to them as members of the European Parliament to pay for staff working for the party in France instead.

While she did not broadcast a police search at her HQ, Ms Le Pen

 

The far-Right leader, who lost to Mr Macron in the second round of France's presidential election last year, claims the case and others against her as a politically-motivated attempt to ruin her party.

Mr Mélenchon said that the preliminary probe against his party was based on a “joke” by Sophie Montel, a far-Right MEP, who “admitted herself she wasn’t being serious” when she suggested he too should be probed.