PARIS (Mar. 5)
A Paris Appeals Court ruling Wednesday, broadening the charges against Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie, has set back his trial date by at least a year. Barbie, who has been in French custody since his ouster from Bolivia in February, 1983, will not go on trial until early 1987, at the soonest, according to court sources here.
The Appeals Court decided that the former Gestapo chief in Lyon, responsible for the mass deportation of French Jews and other atrocities during World War II, can be charged with war crimes as well as crimes against humanity for which he has already been indicted. The court acted on the request of five associations of former resistance fighters and individual survivors of the anti-Nazi French underground.
Crimes against humanity, for which there is no statute of limitations, includes crimes committed against civilians, in Barbie’s case mainly Jews. War crimes, which are governed by a statute of limitations, include crimes against resistance fighters. The court, by its ruling Wednesday, waived the statute.
NEW INVESTIGATING MAGISTRATE APPOINTED
The Appeals Court also ordered that a new investigating magistrate, Jean Pascal, the Court President, undertake the war crimes investigation, replacing magistrate Christian Riss who completed the investigation of crimes against humanity some time ago. Court sources said the new investigation could take months.
The Appeals Court decision, which means another postponement of Barbie’s trial after several previous postponements, has not been linked to the legislative elections scheduled for March 16. But many commentators here have said the government was anxious to avoid a possible political scandal during the pre-election period.
Barbie’s lawyer, Jacques Verges, has warned that he intends to “shed all the light” on the betrayal of France’s wartime resistance leader, Jean Moulin, who was murdered by the Gestapo. He has implied that he has evidence that other resistance leaders turned Moulin over to the Nazis for personal and political reasons. Many of them are still alive and occupy respectable positions in the French establishment.
Barbie, 73, has been confined to Mont Luc prison in Lyon since his arrival in France on February 5, 1983. Known as “the Butcher of Lyon,” he was twice sentenced to death in absentia–in 1952 and 1954–by French military courts. But those sentences are now void because of the statute of limitations.