A French MP has avoided jail after he was caught on camera saying “Hitler maybe didn’t kill enough of them” during an altercation with a Roma community close to the town he is mayor of.
Gilles Bourdouleix, who represents the Maine-et-Loire department in Western France made the comments after confronting the group who had illegally parked on a field near the town of Cholet.
After the video was widely broadcast across France, Bourdouleix was charged with ‘condoning crimes against humanity’, and was on Thursday found guilty.
He was handed a 3000 euro fine by the court which the judges opted to suspend. He was also ordered to pay a 600 euro fine for insulting the journalist who caught him on tape.
Prosecutors had sought a six months prison sentence, arguing that his behaviour was “totally intolerable to public order”. His defence claimed that the words, said under his breath, were not aimed at anyone.
The maximum sentence possible for the crime is a 45,000 euros fine and a year in jail.
Bourdouleix had initially argued that he had not made the statement, but journalists later had it verified by experts.
“I mumbled something like, ‘if it was Hitler he would have killed them here’, meaning, ‘thank goodness I’m not Hitler’ and so there’s no reason to call me Hitler,” he told BFM news TV in July. “This is shameful score-settling which aims to smear me.”
Although Bourdouleix has resigned from his party, the IDU, over the controversy, he has held onto his elected lawmaker seat and mayor role.