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French Leader Stands by Statement

November 5, 1998

PARIS (AP) _ French far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen says he stands by his statement that Nazi gas chambers are a ``detail″ of history _ though he’s willing to call it a ``scandalous″ detail.

The statement, made in various interviews, has gotten Le Pen into trouble.

Last month, the European Parliament voted to lift his parliamentary immunity so German prosecutors can investigate whether he broke laws that make trivializing the Holocaust a crime.

In an interview published in Thursday’s France-Soir newspaper, Le Pen was asked if he stood by his statement.

``Yes,″ he answered. Asked why he never qualified the wording, to say ``scandalous″ or something similar, he replied:

``But no one ever asked me to qualify it. Yes, it is a scandalous detail. An essential detail.″

Le Pen, whose anti-immigrant National Front has the support of about 15 percent of the French electorate, maintains the statement does not deny the Holocaust happened. He could face a maximum of five years in jail if convicted.

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