PARIS (Oct. 2)
Klaus Barbie, the wartime “butcher of Lyon”, now in jail awaiting trial for crimes against humanity, has demanded his release on grounds that he was a kidnap victim.
According to his defense counsel, Jean Verges, Barbie was seized by unidentified French agents in Cayenne, French Guiana, after his expulsion from Bolivia last February and transported to France. “I was a kidnap victim and request justice, “the former deputy commander of the gestapo in Lyon said.
Verges has filed suit in Cayenne, requesting the chief justice there to order an investigation into the circumstances of the alleged kidnapping and to disclosed the identities of the agents and their accomplices.
Barbie was sentenced to death in absentia by a French court shortly after World War II. He escaped from Germany to Bolivia in 1951 and lived in that country, under the alias Klaus Altmann, until his arrest in La Paz last January 25 for illegal business activities. He was expelled a week later and flown to Cayenne, the nearest French territory. His attorney alleges this was a deliberate move to enable French agents to take him into custody.
SUIT CHARGES COLLUSION
Barbie’s suit charges collusion between the French and Bolivian authorities, claiming that France and Bolivia have no extradition treaty. The French in fact unsuccessfully sought Barbie’s extradition for years but the ex-Nazi was under protection of the rightwing military regime which was overthrown shortly before his arrest.
Since his return to France, Barbie has been confined to a cell in the Lyon jail which had housed his offices during the German occupation. An investigating magistrate is examining evidence and questioning witnesses in preparation for the trial for which no date has yet been announced.