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Last Updated: Saturday, 17 February 2007, 22:00 GMT
French wartime collaborator dead
Convicted Nazi collaborator Maurice Papon
Papon was sent to jail in 1998
French Nazi collaborator Maurice Papon, convicted of sending French Jews to Nazi camps in World War II, has died, aged 96.

He underwent surgery earlier in the week to adjust his pacemaker after being hospitalised with heart problems.

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

In 1998, he was jailed for 10 years for helping to send about 1,500 French Jews to Nazi-run death camps during WWII.

Papon never expressed remorse for his wartime actions but was freed in 2002 because of his age, after serving only three years of his sentence, a move which angered Holocaust survivors.

His appeal for a retrial was rejected by France's highest court in June 2004.

Papon died in his sleep, said his lawyer Francis Vuillemin.

"He fought to the end," said Mr Vuillemin. "He died a free man."

However Benjamin Abtan, president of the French association of Jewish students, said that while Papon died quietly, "that was not the case for all those he sent to their deaths.

"We will remember him not just as a criminal but also as a symbol of the responsibility of the French state in the attempt to destroy Jews in Europe," he said.

Ministerial career

After the war, Papon was not prosecuted and he went on to serve as France's budget minister from 1978 to 1981.

Maurice Papon in French police uniform in 1958

It was only in 1981 that his actions came to light.

In 1998, he was convicted of crimes against humanity for signing deportation orders for 1,690 Jews in Bordeaux in 1942-44.

He is the highest-ranking French citizen to have been convicted in such a case.

After being found guilty, Papon fled to Switzerland, but he was detained there and returned to France to begin his sentence.

He was stripped of his Legion d'Honneur award after his conviction, and was later fined for wearing the medal illegally.

During World War II, about 76,000 Jews were deported from France to German death camps, many to Auschwitz. Only 2,500 survived.




VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Papon's part in the Nazi holocaust



SEE ALSO
Obituary: Maurice Papon
17 Feb 07 |  Europe
Surgery for French collaborator
13 Feb 07 |  Europe
France fines ex-Nazi over medal
14 Oct 04 |  Europe
Paris remembers lost Jews
19 Jul 02 |  Europe



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