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Effraim Zuroff of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre
"Fanatic Nazi who did not regret what he did"
 real 28k

Friday, 2 March, 2001, 12:47 GMT
French court gives Nazi life sentence
Jewish people imprisoned at a concentration camp
Brunner sent thousands of Jews to extermination camps
Nazi war criminal Alois Brunner, who sent tens of thousands of Jews to their deaths during the Holocaust, has been sentenced by a French court to life imprisonment.

The court, following the example of earlier French verdicts in war crimes cases in 1953 and 1954, reached its decision soon after the accusations against him were read out.


This is the case in which the criminality of the criminal does not have to be proven

French Nazi hunter Serge Klarsfeld
Tried in absentia, Brunner was right-hand man to the Gestapo's "technician of death" Adolf Eichmann. It is not known whether he is alive or dead.

He was in charge of the Drancy camp outside Paris where Jews rounded up in France were held before being sent to Nazi death camps. An estimated 345 children were among Brunner's victims.

Regrets

"We regret that the dock is empty. This is the case in which the criminality of the criminal does not have to be proven," said French Nazi hunter Serge Klarsfeld, who has pursued the case since 1987.

"He was careful to take refuge in an anti-Jewish state," he said, referring to Syria where some believe Brunner may still be hiding at the age of 88.

Alois Brunner
Brunner: Responsible for death of 345 children
"This may not be a trial in the classic sense of the term, but it is a powerful symbolic act," said Mr Klarsfeld, who has devoted much of his life to documenting the persecution of French Jews and bringing those responsible to justice.

Brunner, an Austrian-born SS chief, was once described by Adolf Eichmann - the architect of the "Final Solution" - as one of his best men.

Last judgement

Eichmann dispatched Brunner wherever he felt round-ups of Jews were proceeding too slowly.

From June 1943 until the liberation he sent 24,000 Jews to their almost certain deaths.

Lawyer Serge Klarsfeld
Mr Klarsfeld is a world-famous Nazi hunter
He also waged a reign of terror on the French Riviera, hunting down Jews who had sought refuge in the relative safety of the Italian occupied zone.

It is widely believed that he fled to Syria in the 1950s, and that successive regimes offered him protection. However, Syria has repeatedly denied harbouring him.

Mr Klarsfeld said that as there had been no official proof of his death a trial was an essential act of recognition.

Correspondents say it was almost certainly France's last chance to pass judgement on atrocities committed during World War II.

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