PARIS (May. 24)
Paul Touvier, France’s most wanted wartime collaborator and a close aide to convicted war criminal Klaus Barbie, was arrested Wednesday in Nice and flown to Paris. He faces trial for crimes against humanity.
Touvier, 74, was twice sentenced to death in absentia for war crimes. But he was granted an official pardon by the late President Georges Pompidou in 1972 and was able to recover his personal possessions.
The statute of limitations on war crimes had come into effect by then, and the French judicial system had yet to recognize crimes against humanity, the statute under which Barbie, the so-called “Butcher of Lyon,” was tried and convicted in 1987.
Touvier, who was known as “the French Barbie” for his brutality toward Jews and resistance fighters, was sheltered for many years by traditionalist Catholics.
After families of his victims got his pardon rescinded because of his involvement in crimes against humanity, Touvier found haven at a monastery in Nice, where he was finally arrested.
The Priory of St. Francois belongs to excommunicated Roman Catholic Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, a die-hard opponent of the Catholic-Jewish rapprochement mandated by the second Vatican Council.
Touvier, who was police chief in Lyon during the Vichy regime, was responsible for rounding up Jews for deportation on orders of the Gestapo.
He personally handed over seven Jews from Rillieux-le-Pape, near Lyon, who were shot in reprisal for the assassination of a Vichy minister.