The French far-right leader Marine Le Pen has refused to to undergo psychiatric tests as part of an inquiry into her sharing images of Islamic State group atrocities.
The leader of the National Rally (formerly the National Front), who lost to Emmanuel Macron in last year’s presidential vote, tweeted pictures of the court order and said it was “crazy”.
Le Pen is under investigation for “distributing violent images” in December 2015 and was was stripped of her parliamentary immunity in order to be charged.
She shared the images – including pictures of the killing of the American reporter James Foley – on social media a few weeks after terrorist attacks in Paris killed 130 people.
She has been charged with circulating violent messages considered to “incite terrorism or pornography or seriously harm human dignity”.
If convicted, she could face up to three years in prison or a €75,000 fine.
On Twitter, Le Pen shared a copy of a court order which said she must she undergo psychiatric evaluation in the case.
“I thought I had been through it all: well, no! For having condemned Daesh (IS) horrors in tweets, the ‘justice system’ is putting me through psychiatric tests! Just how far will they go?” she tweeted.
She later argued on BFM TV, a French 24-hour news broadcaster, that one of the methods used by totalitarian regimes against opponents is to “make them look like they’re crazy”.
She said she would refuse to take the test. “I’d like to see how the judge would try and force me do it,” she added.
The prosecutor’s office in Paris told France 24 that such tests were a matter of routine in cases which involved the dissemination of violent messages.
There is no legal mechanism under French law to force someone to comply with such an order.
In a statement, Italy’s interior minister, Matteo Salvini said: “A court orders a psychiatric assessment for Marine Le Pen. Words fail me! Solidarity with her and with the French who love freedom!”
In France, Le Pen’s leftwing rival Jean-Luc Mélenchon also criticised the court order, saying Le Pen was “politically responsible for her political acts”.
He added: “This is not how we will weaken the far right.”
Her party is facing separate legal action over the alleged misuse of EU funds.