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Tuesday, 24 March, 1998, 23:19 GMT
French divided on usefulness of Papon trial

Opinion polls in France show there is a very high degree of public interest in the trial of Maurice Papon, a wartime official of the pro-Nazi French regime, who is accused of crimes against humanity.

There are, however, differing opinions about the usefulness of such trials so long after the Second World War.

Less than half of those polled in two independent surveys said that six months of hearings helped them to understand the role Mr Papon had played in the pro-Nazi Vichy administration.

Mr Papon is accused of rounding up Jews in the city of Bordeaux for deportation to Nazi death camps.

His defence says he is innocent and was in reality helping the anti-Nazi Resistance.

The court is expected to pass its verdict on Friday.

From the newsroom of the BBC World Service

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