Far-right French presidential candidate Eric Zemmour has been fined €10,000 ($11,398) over comments he made about unaccompanied migrants that a Paris court said constituted inciting hate speech.
The pundit turned politician said in 2020 of young unaccompanied migrants: “They've got no reason being here, they are thieves, they are killers, they are rapists, that's all they do, they should be sent back.”
A lawyer for Zemmour, who already had two prior hate speech convictions, said the verdict would be appealed. He has consistently denied the charges and denounced them as “an attempt to intimidate” him by rights groups and prosecutors.
The lawyer, Olivier Pardo, said: "This is the condemnation of a free spirit by a judicial system that has been invaded by the ideologues.
"The truth is that these isolated minors who are very often neither minors nor isolated are characterised by their strong tendency towards delinquency or even criminal acts. As French citizens we must demand the right to talk about this question."
The unexpected candidate for the April 2022 elections, he has gained some support for his anti-Islam, anti-immigration rhetoric. Current polls have him obtaining around 12 per cent of votes in the first round, behind far-right politician Marine Le Pen, conservative candidate Valerie Pecresse and current President Emmanuel Macron.
Zemmour has been investigated 16 times in total over his inflammatory comments on immigration and Islam.
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 remarks about a Muslim “invasion” of France.