Papon Trial Goes Into Reverse

Once you've seen a thousand like this, an oriental one looks good.

Tapie Goes After Crédit Lyonnais

Paris:- Saturday, 24. January 1998:- Last Monday saw the biggest crowd of spectators at the trial of Maurice Papon in Bordeaux since the process has begun.

They had come to hear the testimony of Michel Berges, who, as a young student in 1981, had unearthed the documents that led to the present accusations against the defendant.

In two hours of testimony, Mr. Berges mentioned Papon's name only twice. After 15 years of research - into many other cases - Mr. Berges thinks Maurice Papon played a minor role; the major role being reserved for the Prefect, Sabatier.

"Who had the power in Bordeaux?" he asked. It was the Germans, he said; they didn't trust the power of the prefecture, they lied to their counterparts, they went around them.

The following day Mr. Berges told the court that it was a myth that Maurice Papon organized 11 deportation convoys. Papon merely relayed information, and never on his own initiative.

For this, Maurice Papon thanked the witness, for his intellectual honesty. He says it is difficult to appreciate things then, from the viewpoint of now.

On Wednesday, Michel Slitinsky came to talk to the court. He explained how he eluded the roundup of Jews on 20. October 1942. The French police at the door, the father, Abraham Slitinsky pushed into the police van, deported with the 26. October convoy; dead at Auschwitz. Slitinsky's sister, Alice was caught in the attic. But his brother escaped over the roof tops to join the Resistance.

Michel Slitinsky in 1945, fighting in Alsace, then in the Black Forest, stumbled onto a barn full of bar le roule documents from Bordeaux. Since then he's been following the paper trail to the prefecture of the Gironde.

In the afternoon, the fate of Alice was discussed. She was interned at the Mérignac camp and liberated on 5. December. Documents show that Papon wrote to the Germans to request Alice's release, because she was French. On 22. October, Pierre Garat and the SS official came to an agreement to release her.

'Le Roule' wasn't good enough for the page top, but it's okay here.

On Thursday, the President of the court was trying to speed things up; to get the discussion back to the particular convoy of October 1942. Slitinsky's paperwork is not perfect and Papon accuses the civil parties of bad faith.

He says, "Lacking proof against me they are trying to force in the nail, but it is rusty."

I find no report about Friday's proceedings.

Web Sites With Contents About the Papon Trial:

The Matisson family were the first to launch a civil case against Maurice Papon, in 1981. Jean-Marie Matisson runs the website, and reports from the courtroom. At the website, click on 'Affaire Papon.'

Another website of interest contains daily coverage of the trial by the Bordeaux paper, the Sud Ouest.

Who's Done What To Whom?

France's favorite businessman, Bernard Tapie, who is no longer in jail, has had a boost from a judge. In 1990, Mr. Tapie borrowed 1.5 billion francs from a group of banks led by Crédit Lyonnais, to buy Addidas.

In February of 1993, after fixing Addidas up a bit, it was sold to a group led by Crédit Lyonnais, for a bit over two billion francs and Tapie used 1.6 billion to pay off some debts. At the end of 1994, the Dreyfus group, aided by Crédit Lyonnais, raised their participation in Addidas by 4.4 billion. The following spring, a bankruptcy investigation was begun against Tapie and all his companies.

In November of 1995 Addidas was taken to the Bourse and 12 billion was raised on it. The amount of capital gains realized is unknown and Addidas is estimated to be worth more than 33 billion today.

Backing up a bit, Crédit Lyonnais launched a court action against Tapie; saying he owed them 1.5 billion francs. This was part of the beginning of Tapie's bankruptcy.

A Crédit Lyonnais insider has been talking to a judge and says it is probably the other way around, and the Crédit Lyonnais probably owes the 1.5 billion to Tapie. The judge wrote this down and sent it to Tapie.

Tapie and others think Crédit Lyonnais sealed the deal to sell Addidas long before the public exchange came off. I can't remember how much the taxpayers put up to bail out the Crédit Lyonnais the last time around which was the second or third time - but if the courts decide the bank had its hand in the cookie jar, just when they were running Tapie into the ground - then I, for one, will never ever use one of their ATMs.

The Pesky Unemployed

The Prime Minister Lionel Jospin spent a long time on TF1 on Wednesday night telling the nation that it is impossible to give everybody a job and equally impossible to give everybody without a job a salary.

Doing this seems to age him about a year per day, and nobody - not the millions of unemployed at any rate - seems to care anymore. From the bottom of the barrel the sky not only seems fairly small, it looks far away.

Meanwhile, during the week the press has been hinting or saying that some of the demonstrating unemployed seem to be organized. A small group of them calls the press together and they all go off on a magical mystery tour to some place and have a demo together - which is shown on the evening news.

Jump to tomorrow: Sunday's show had them staging a blitz attack on a Leclerc discount supermarket in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, and rolling past the cash registers with buggies full of goods.

Store management put up no resistance and estimated the loss at around 5,000 francs. Some of the demonstrators said they were not unemployed and one said he was an anarchist. TV-news got good film of it even if they had to chase around a lot to get it.

Portable Phones Invade France
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