PARIS (Jul. 13)
Paul Touvier, the 78-year-old former French Nazi collaborator charged with crimes against humanity, has appealed a court decision requiring him to report every two weeks to the police station close to his Paris apartment until his trial.
The court had also ordered Touvier, head of the intelligence branch of the pro-Nazi Vichy regime’s Lyon militia, to surrender his identification papers to the authorities and remain in the Paris area.
No date has been set yet for Touvier’s trial, but it seems that the court in Versailles will hear the case by the beginning of next year.
Touvier is likely to become the first French citizen to be judged for crimes against humanity.
Until Touvier’s appeal is decided, he is free to travel.
His lawyer said he would nevertheless abide by the court order voluntarily. Jewish organizations have expressed concern that he would flee the country.
After a long time hiding in Catholic convents with the help of friends in the Catholic hierarchy, Touvier was finally arrested in 1989 in Nice and Jailed until 1991, when he was released because of his reported bad health.
Observers believe Touvier’s most recent appeal will be rejected.
French Nazi-hunter Serge Klarsfeld told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency he is convinced that “unless Touvier leaves France or is killed by a lunatic or dies of old age, the trial will take place.”
Asked about the possible trial of Maurice Papon, another Frenchman accused of crimes against humanity, Klarsfeld said the French judiciary authorities were doing their best to delay the case.
“Apparently, everyone there is hoping that Papon, now over 80, will slip on a banana peel and break his neck. The judges are afraid to throw the case out of court, and at the same time, they will not put Papon on trial.”
Papon was first indicted over 11 years ago, but due to various technicalities, he has never been brought to court. As secretary-general of the Bordeaux area during the World War II, he signed the orders to arrest and deport hundreds of Jews, including children.
He later became head of the Paris police and served as a Cabinet minister under president Valery Giscard d’Estaing.
A third war criminal, Rene Bousquet, who was Vichy police chief, was murdered last month by a non-Jewish man considered mentally imbalanced who wanted to do something important.
Klarsfeld, speaking to reporters Tuesday, said Touvier should take care to avoid the same fate.
He spoke in advance of this week’s tribute to Jews who were rounded up and deported on July 16-17, 1942.
Klarsfeld also urged French President Francois Mitterrand to refrain from creating new controversy by paying any honor to Vichy President Philippe Petain.
Last Armistice Day, Mitterrand raised many hackles by laying a wreath at the tomb of Petain because he had been a hero of World War I.
Klarsfeld this week published a “Diary of the Persecutions Against the Jews in France From 1940 to 1944.”
The diary traces the origin of every single Jew who was arrested by the French police or gendarmerie and detained in the Drancy concentration camp near Paris.
Most of those detained there were later deported to Auschwitz.