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Collaborator Touvier Shows in Court Quelling Rumors He Fled the Country

July 1, 1993
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Dispelling rumors he had fled to Canada to avoid standing trial for war crimes, French Nazi collaborator Paul Touvier appeared in court this week in Versailles.

The Versailles Chamber of Accusation, sitting behind closed doors, heard State Prosecutor Bernard Pasturaud request that Touvier, 78, be arrested or at least required to report weekly to the police station near his home until the trial begins.

Touvier’s lawyer, Jacques Tremolet de Villers, argued against the request on a technicality, claiming the Versailles court was not the right jurisdiction to deal with the issue.

Touvier, a former officer of the Vichy regime’s police militia in Lyon, is accused of participating in the execution of seven Jewish hostages in Rillieux-le-Pape in 1944, a retaliation for the assassination of Philippe Henriot, Vichy’s minister of propaganda.

He was twice sentenced to death in absentia for war crimes but was sheltered by church institutions until the statute of limitations on war crimes took effect and he received a presidential pardon by the late President Georges Pompidou.

That pardon was rescinded and Touvier went into hiding again. He was arrested at a monastery in Nice in May 1989.

The Chamber of Accusation decreed in February 1992 that Touvier must stand trial. That ruling was overturned by a higher court which dropped all charges against Touvier in April 1992 based on what it said was lack of evidence.

After a loud chorus of outrage erupted in France, that decision was also overturned. The war crimes charges were reinstated this year, but no date was set for trial.

Earlier this month, rumors were spread that Touvier had left France for a hideaway in Quebec. The rumors were picked up by the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, which tracks Nazi war criminals.

But the rumor was apparently unfounded. The French extreme-right weekly Minute recently printed a photograph of Touvier in a Paris street in front of a poster for another French magazine, showing Touvier was in France that week.

Touvier’s lawyers also strongly denied the rumors, telling the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that Touvier did not have a passport, which he had to surrender.

De Villers said that while his client was not required by law to appear Tuesday in court, he advised him to do so.

“It was necessary that (the court) see Paul Touvier and that he appears in court even when he doesn’t need to,” de Villers said.

A large contingent at the courthouse made sure that the media was kept away from Touvier.

The Versailles Chamber of Accusation is expected to decide July 7 on whether Touvier must be sent to jail to wait there until his trial.

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