BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Russian Polish Albanian Greek Czech Ukrainian Serbian Turkish Romanian
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Europe  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS
Thursday, 19 September, 2002, 16:16 GMT 17:16 UK
France to challenge Papon release
Maurice Papon leaving prison
Chirac rejected a pardon for Papon three times
The French Government says it has instructed prosecutors to draft an appeal to overturn the release of the convicted war criminal Maurice Papon.

The decision by a Paris court on Wednesday to free him on grounds of ill-health caused uproar both within the government and among human rights activists.


I do not believe that he [Papon] is in his death throes

Serge Klarsfeld
lawyer for Nazi-era deportees
Papon, 92, had served three years of a 10-year sentence for helping to send more than 1,500 French Jews to Nazi death camps during World War II.

The French Justice Ministry said in a statement that prosecutors would be drafting an appeal, but there were no details about the legal basis of the challenge.

Earlier, Justice Minister Dominique Perben told French radio that feelings were "running high" over the release, and that the government was looking into an appeal.

Mr Perben recalled that President Jacques Chirac had refused to pardon Papon three times and shared "the strong emotions of those directly involved in this affair".

"It's a question of crimes against humanity," the minister said.

'Cynical as ever'

Incredulity at Papon's release has grown in France, with commentators pointing out in the media that his original sentence provided for death in confinement, in view of his advanced age.

Died in prison
Klaus Barbie: The 'Butcher of Lyon' died aged 78 of cancer in prison in 1991 while serving a life sentence in France for crimes against humanity
Paul Touvier: Died of cancer aged 81 in 1996 in a prison hospital while serving a life sentence for ordering the execution of French Jews
The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that the war criminal's conditions of confinement were not grounds for compassion.

Michel Slitinsky, a former deportee involved in the first court action against Papon for war crimes, said the images of the freed convict broadcast on Wednesday jarred with the appeals court's portrayal of an ailing old man.

"The television images show an alert, upright Papon as cynical as ever, arm in arm with his lawyer, still lucid and arrogant," he told Liberation newspaper.

Maurice Papon as budget minister in 1980
Papon was a society figure before revelations of his war crimes broke
Serge Klarsfeld, the lawyer who heads the Sons and Daughters of Jewish Deportees of France association, said other elderly war criminals tried by France such as Klaus Barbie and Paul Touvier had not benefited from similar leniency.

"Nor do I believe that he [Papon] is in his death throes," he added.

Mr Klarsfeld suggested that the decision to release Papon had been motivated by his previous high rank in the French establishment.

Papon served as a chief of police under President Charles de Gaulle and went on to take a place in the French cabinet in 1978.

See also:

25 Jul 02 | Europe
19 Jul 02 | Europe
18 Sep 02 | Europe
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Europe stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Europe stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes