PARIS (Feb. 24)
A French magistrate officially informed Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie today of the eight counts constituting the charge of “crimes against humanity” for which he is to face trial in Lyon, the city where he served as gestapo chief from 1942-44.
The charges read to Barbie in his prison cell by Judge Christian Riss, include the arrest of 52 Jewish children in a home in Izieu and the execution of 42 hostages, 40 of them Jews, in 1944. Barbie was informed that the charges fall within the category of “crimes against humanity” which are not protected by a statute of limitations.
The 69-year-old former SS officer, once known as the “butcher of Lyon” will not be charged with the murder of French resistance leader Jean Moulin. That constitutes a “war crime” which cannot be prosecuted after a time lapse of 20 years.
Barbie, who found haven in Bolivia shortly after World War II, was expelled from that country earlier this month and turned over to French authorities who brought him to Lyon to stand trial. His court-appointed lawyer, Etienne de la Servette, who was present when the charges were read, said Barbie seemed “surprised” by the accusation that he ordered the arrest and deportation of 52 Jewish children. But the prisoner was acquainted with the seven other charges, his attorney said.
The original charge sheet is not exhaustive. Judge Riss, who was appointed investigating magistrate, will continue to gather evidence of other possible crimes committed by Barbie in Lyon.
The Dutch government, meanwhile, has announced that it is sending legal material to Lyon related to Barbie’s activities as head of the gestapo’s Jewish Desk in The Hague before he was transferred to France. He is charged by the Dutch authorities with the deportation of 400 Jews from Amsterdam to their deaths in Nazi concentration camps.