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Nazi Ally Wins Ruling on Right to an Appeal

July 26, 2002|From Associated Press

PARIS — The European Court of Human Rights ruled Thursday that France was wrong to deny Maurice Papon the right to an appeal, and his lawyers said they would seek to overturn his 1998 conviction for collaborating with the Nazis as a police official during World War II.

The court in Strasbourg ruled that France violated the 91-year-old Papon's right to a fair trial by refusing to let him appeal the conviction for his role in deporting Jews to death camps.

Papon's attorney, Francis Vuillemin, said he would ask a French commission to strike down Papon's conviction and grant a new trial.

Serge Klarsfeld, a Nazi-hunter and historian who helped produce much of the evidence used at Papon's trial, said any attempt at an appeal or retrial would fail.

"The French authorities ... have reiterated their condemnation, not only of the Vichy state but also of those who were the servants or executors of Vichy," Klarsfeld said. Vichy was the town where the French collaborationist government was seated during the Nazi occupation of France.

French President Jacques Chirac has turned down three requests to pardon Papon. His case has sparked an impassioned debate in France about jailing the elderly.

A court sentenced Papon to 10 years in prison for his role in deporting 1,690 Jews between 1942 and 1944, when he was chief of police in the Bordeaux region.

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