Outburst of firebrand far-left French leader prompts probe

FILE - In this April 14, 2018 file photo, French far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon takes part to a protest against French President Emmanuel Macron's government reforms, in Marseille, southern France. The Paris prosecutor says that legal proceedings have been opened against France's firebrand far-left leader Jean Luc Melenchon for intimidation and violence against anti-corruption investigators .(AP Photo/Claude Paris, File)

PARIS (AP) — French far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon has built a career on his firebrand oratory. But the 2017 presidential candidate's famously acid tongue has now landed him in trouble, with prosecutors going after the leader of the France Unbowed party for verbally savaging anti-corruption investigators.

Melenchon, 67, was captured on video Tuesday losing his cool when police officers and a prosecutor raided his Paris party headquarters, seeking evidence for judicial probes into election and party financing. He angrily shouted "I am the Republic" and "kick down the doors, comrades!" before pushing an investigator.

The Paris prosecutor's office announced Wednesday that legal proceedings have been opened against Melenchon for intimidation and violence.

Melenchon accused the government of deliberately targeting him, calling the raid "a politically motivated act. An act of political aggression."

The politician, born in Morocco, also blamed the explosive reaction on his roots in an interview with BFMTV: "I've the right to get annoyed. I'm Mediterranean."

Melenchon's outburst — notably saying "My person is sacred" and "No one can touch me" — became an instant viral hit on social media in France. Melenchon was making the argument that his status as an elected lawmaker meant he should not be manhandled.

The politician, who has been an innovator in French politics with his use of video and social media, filmed himself during the raid and posted it live online.

His France Unbowed party isn't the only one in France whose finances are being scrutinized. The far-right party of Marine Le Pen also is under investigation over its use of European parliamentary funds. Melenchon last year criticized Le Pen for not cooperating with investigators.

In the National Assembly Tuesday, Le Pen made the surprising move of throwing her support behind Melenchon, her political and ideological archrival.


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