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French Court To Decide on Papon

October 11, 1999

BORDEAUX, France (AP) _ An appeals court on Monday ordered a new medical examination to help determine whether Maurice Papon, a Vichy official convicted in the World War II deportation of Jews, must surrender before France’s highest court hears his case.

Under French law, the 89-year-old Papon must turn himself in on the eve of the Oct. 21 hearing in Paris by the Court of Cassation.

After a three-hour hearing, the lower court requested an update on a 1997 medical exam to see if Papon’s health could withstand imprisonment. The court said it would decide Tuesday whether Papon must turn himself in.

Papon was convicted in 1998 of complicity in crimes against humanity and given a 10-year prison sentence for his role in the arrest and deportation of some 1,600 Jews, including children, while he was a top-ranking police officer in Bordeaux’s Gironde region between 1941-44.

He remained free during the six-month trial, spending only one night in prison on the eve of the trial. In a decision that angered France’s Jewish community, the court then freed him for the duration of the proceedings.

Papon’s lawyers appealed to the judges to allow their client to remain free during the appeal on the grounds that he is old and ill. Civil party lawyers maintain that Papon should not be above the law.

Papon served in successive French governments after the war, at one point serving as budget minister. With his conviction, he became the highest-ranking member of the pro-Nazi Vichy regime to be convicted for complicity in crimes against humanity.

If the conviction is upheld, Papon is expected to seek a presidential pardon.

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