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Cash pile found at French comedian's home

Police seize 650,000 euros and $15,000 in cash during a raid on the home of controversial comic Dieudonne M'bala M'bala.

Last updated: 29 Jan 2014 20:37
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Dieudonne has been repeatedly convicted for inciting racial hatred and anti-Semitism [Reuters]

French police have seized 650,000 euros and $15,000 in cash during a raid on the home of controversial comic Dieudonne M'bala M'bala as part of a probe into suspected fraud. 

The revelation came as the French Union of Jewish Students (UEJF) began a legal action aimed at forcing Dieudonne to withdraw one of his videos from YouTube.

The UEJF said sections of the performance on the film breached France's laws on incitement to racial hatred, racial defamation and denial of the holocaust. A judge will rule on the application on February 12.

Dieudonne, who has been widely accused of promoting anti-Semitism, already has a string of convictions for hate speech and other related offences.

Police sources said the cash was found during a raid on Dieudonne's house in the town of Mesnil-le-Simon, southwest of Paris, on Tuesday.

Dieudonne's lawyer Jacques Verdier confirmed that cash had been confiscated but said the 650,000 euros figure was "excessive".

Verdier said the money was from ticket sales for Dieudonne's shows and there had been no attempt to hide it.

The raids also targeted several other properties, including the Main D'Or theatre in Paris where the stand-up comic stages some of his shows.

Authorities are currently trying to force Dieudonne to pay more than $90,000 in outstanding fines related to his convictions and suspect that the 47-year-old was planning to fraudulently declare himself bankrupt.

They are also investigating suspected money laundering and misuse of corporate assets, most notably in relation to 400,000 euros the comic is suspected of having illicitly transferred to Cameroon.

'Pedlar of hate'

Dieudonne made headlines last month when the government, which has branded him a "pedlar of hate", succeeded in preventing him from starting a nationwide tour of a new show, "The Wall", because of its perceived anti-Jewish content.

He has also generated controversy by popularising the "quenelle", a trademark stiff-armed gesture that critics say is a disguised Nazi salute but that he defends as a generic "up yours" to the French establishment.

The video that the UEJF is seeking to ban is entitled: "2014 will be the year of the Quenelle."

The student organisation said it contained four excerpts which breached French law including one in which Dieudonne says: "It is not for me to choose between the Jews and the Nazis, I'm neutral in this business."

The UEJF says that this is tantamount to blaming Jews for the holocaust, which is illegal under French law on historical revisionism in relation to crimes against humanity.

Police meanwhile announced they had charged a cartoonist Noel Gerard, also known as "Joe the Crow," for circulating on the internet a photograph of a person performing the quenelle outside a Jewish school in Toulouse where a rabbi and three children were shot dead by gunman Mohamed Merah in 2012.

Gerard was charged with incitement to racial hatred.

The person in the picture, who has not yet been identified, is one of a number of people French police are seeking over "quenelle" pictures taken at locations including Auschwitz, holocaust memorials and synagogues. 

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Source:
AFP
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