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Banzer: Fate of Barbie-altmann is Up to the Bolivian Courts

The exchange of letters between President Georges Pompidou and Col. Hugo Banzer, President of Bolivia, over the extradition of wanted Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie, was published here yesterday for the first time. According to Banzer, the matter is one for the Bolivian courts to decide.

France has asked for the extradition of Klaus Altmann, a Bolivian citizen of German extraction who is identified as Barbie according to a mass of evidence recently unearthed. Barbie is wanted for the murder of a French resistance leader and the deportation of countless French Jews in Lyons where he was gestapo chief during World War II.

Pompidou wrote to Banzer that Barbie is “a war criminal and torturer of many Frenchmen…Time erases many things but not everything.” The French people, Pompidou noted, cannot accept war crimes being “forgotten in indifference.” Banzer replied that France must trust the “nobility of my country” and the “clear moral tradition of Bolivian Justice” in deciding Altmann’s fate.

Barbie-Altmann was tracked down by Mrs. Beate Klarsfeld, an anti-Nazi German married to a French Jew. Primarily through her efforts, French military judges last month obtained documents from the West German Attorney General which are said to confirm that Altmann is Barbie. One obstacle to the French extradition request is Bolivia’s 20-year statute of limitations on crimes. Another is Bolivia’s policy not to extradite its citizens.

Purim was celebrated in the USSR by many Jewish groups, particularly by young people, not as a religious festival but as a day of redemption.

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