Klarsfeld Given 2-month Sentence
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Klarsfeld Given 2-month Sentence

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Mrs. Beate Klarsfeld, the Nazi hunter, was sentenced to two months imprisonment by a Cologne judge today for attempting to kidnap a wanted Nazi war criminal. The sentence, pronounced by Judge Viktor de Somoskoeoy, rejected her attorney’s plea for acquittal and the public prosecutor’s recommendation of a six-month suspended sentence.

Mrs. Klarsfeld had readily admitted during her trial that in 1971 she attempted the abduction of Kurt Lischka, the former Gestapo chief in Paris, who a French court sentenced to life imprisonment in absentia in 1950 for his role in the deportation of 100,000 French Jews and others during World War II.

Mrs. Klarsfeld’s trial, marked by frequent outbursts from her supporters which prompted the judge to clear the courtroom, focussed world attention on a legal loophole that has allowed Nazis who committed war crimes in occupied France during the war to escape prosecution. The trial had been one of the most turbulent in German legal history, with open fights between French witnesses and German police and court guards. On one occasion Lischka fled the courtroom in fear.


Yesterday, West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt assured visiting French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing that the loophole will soon be closed. It involves an amendment to the Franco-German extradition treaty of 1971, still to be ratified by the Bonn parliament, which would allow war criminals to be retried in West Germany even after they had been tried, as Lischka was, in France.

Mrs. Klarsfeld, who has devoted herself recent years to tracking down wanted Nazis, elicited world-wide support and sympathy as she faced the Cologne court during the past two weeks. She stated that the judge had openly displayed the arrogance of the German courts towards victims of Nazism and French witnesses. She added that she was happy that Giscard d’Estaing had intervened during his talks yesterday in Bonn. Mrs. Klarsfeld had stated earlier that it is important to force the Germans to draw consequences from the past.

According to French figures, about 1026 Nazi war criminals were sentenced in absentia by French courts after the war and an estimated 200 of them are still alive and at large in West Germany.

(Last night the Israeli Knesset called unanimously on the West German government to drop its charges against the Nazi hunter. Foreign Minister Yigal Allon told the Knesset that it was “inconceivable” that Lischka should remain free while Mrs. Klarsfeld faces imprisonment. “It is impossible to understand the morality that enables thousands of former Nazis to move about freely and live normal lives while a courageous woman who has dedicated her life to running down the criminals is being tried like a common criminal,” he said.)

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