BRUSSELS -- European Union legislators have lifted the EU parliamentary immunity of French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen for tweeting pictures of acts of violence perpetrated by the Islamic State (IS) militant group.
Le Pen, who leads her National Front party in the EU parliament, is under investigation in France for posting three graphic images of IS executions on Twitter in December 2015. The images include the beheading of American journalist James Foley.
The tweet was in response to a French broadcast interview in which a comparison was made between the rise Le Pen's Front National and the IS.
The vote on March 2 by a large show of hands in the plenary of the EU Parliament confirmed a preliminary decision made on February 28 by the legal affairs committee of the EU parliament.
Le Pen's parliamentary immunity shields her from prosecution. By lifting it, the EU legislature allowed legal action against her.
The offense under consideration is "publishing violent images," which under certain circumstances can carry a penalty of three years in prison and a fine of 75,000 euros ($78,930.00).
Le Pen is leading the polls for the first round of the presidential election but is expected to lose in the second-round run-off.
With reporting by RFE/RL's Rikard Jozwiak in Brussels