PARIS (Jan. 31)
Jacques Verges, the lawyer defending Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie, has been formally charged with the slander of three prominent leaders of the wartime French resistance movement.
Justice Ministry sources said, however, that the charge will not prevent him from serving as Barbie’s counsel when the former gestapo chief in Lyon is brought to trial, possibly late this year or in 1986.
Verges, who volunteered to defend Barbie shortly after he was brought to France from Bolivia in January, 1983, has threatened to expose “who were the real killers” of Jean Moulin, the French resistance leader whose murder has been laid to Barbie.
He also implied that Jewish collaborators prompted Barbie to deport children from the Jewish orphanage at Izeu and to order the mass arrests of French Jewish community leaders in Lyon.
The charges of slander were brought against Verges by Raymond and Lucie Aubracwho, close associates of Moulin at the time of his arrest, and Gen. Pierre Emile de Benouville, a wartime resistance leader who has maintained close connections with French Jewish organizations.
Barbie was imprisoned in Lyon two years ago for “crimes against humanity” which itself is unenforceable under French law. Specific charges will be drawn up by the prosecutor, based on evidence amassed by investigating magistrate Christian Riss.
Riss submitted his findings several weeks ago and the trial was expected to start sometime next fall.
But Justice Ministry sources told the French news agency, Agence France Presse, yesterday that it might not open until 1986 because additional legal work is required.