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Last Updated: Saturday, 12 June, 2004, 01:22 GMT 02:22 UK
Papon's final appeal turned down
Convicted Nazi collaborator Maurice Papon
Papon was released because of his age
France's highest court has rejected a final appeal by Nazi collaborator Maurice Papon for a retrial.

Papon, 93, was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 1998 for complicity in crimes against humanity, but he was released in 2002 because of his age.

The court was deciding whether there was any failure in procedure leading up to the verdict.

Friday's decision came surprisingly quickly - it was originally expected to be delivered next Wednesday.

'The End'

"This is a victory because Papon, until now, had enjoyed too much indulgence" from the courts, said Michel Slitinsky, one of the civil parties opposing Papon.

"The term 'The End' has been written on this drama. The trial is finally over, and it is time," added lawyer Gerard Boulanger.

Friday's hearing came about following a European Court ruling that the French law obliging people to turn themselves in on the eve of an appeal court hearing was illegal.

Papon's appeal never took place because he absconded to Switzerland before his scheduled appearance. His lawyers hoped there was therefore scope for a retrial.

Papon was the second-highest official in France's south-western Bordeaux region during the German wartime occupation.

No remorse

He went on to become a government minister, but was later sentenced by a court in Bordeaux for helping to send more than 1,500 French Jews to German-run death camps.

He was the highest-ranking French official to be sentenced for helping the Nazis, and his trial reopened painful memories about collaboration in occupied France during World War II.

Papon has denied any wrongdoing, despite his conviction.

Jewish groups opposed his release because they said he showed no remorse for his actions.

Apart from Papon, Paul Touvier was the only other Frenchman convicted of crimes against humanity for his role during the occupation.

Touvier, a former aide to Gestapo official Klaus Barbie, executed seven Jews. He was convicted in 1994 and died two years later.

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25 Jul 02  |  Europe
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19 Jul 02  |  Europe

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