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

'Ding-a-ling, Allo Cheri!' is what 87 percent of the French do not want to hear in theatres. Not during the performances and not during the intermissions. Another, or part of the same, 81 percent do not want to hear the peep-peep-peep in restaurants either.

The Brasserie Lipp, where all sorts of Important People hang out, has banned portable phone use entirely. SportsFans do not want to hear the wretched things at sporting events, no matter how loud the crowd may be.

Two-thirds of the French are bothered by them on public transport, and for some reason nearly the on the ile de france same amount don't like them in cars. Oddly, half the French will tolerate them while walking in the woods and nearly 60 percent think it's okay to use them on public sidewalks.

The only place you can stand right in the Ile-de-France, is in the Louvre.

This is why you see people get up from café terraces and walk halfway down the block to stand beside a handy tree, while taking a call. What most people seem to have forgotten is that most cafés have telephones in them - which do not have to be carried about - and they are not all that expensive to use - not as expensive as the monthly bill for a portable in any case.

Johnny Gets Lifted

France's number one and oldest rock star, Johnny Hallyday, has had himself lifted, or recast, or remodeled, or maybe even undyed. The week before last's TV-guide showed him on the cover with dark blond hair and a bit of stubble on the face. Anyhow, I scribbled on the TV-guide cover a bit to indicate his new 'look.'

Posters all over town during the week showed him with on the ile de france short dark hair and a fair amount of dark stubble. With black jacket and black V-neck shirt, there was no sign of jeans, belt-buckles or Harley fringes. A new Johnny?

I found it hard to believe that it was in November of 1996 that Johnny gave his famous 'breathless' concert in Las Vegas, but I checked the archive and it's true.

A week-old Télé-Loisirs didn't have Johnny's latest 'look,' so I fixed it a bit.

Since then, he's taken a year off to think things over, and the present drum-roll is for a whirlwind concert tour in Marseille, Bordeaux and Paris - all tomorrow - and the release of a new album, entitled 'Ce Que Je Sais.'

Le Parisien says it is not the 'old' Johnny. The paper says other things too, like, "Johnny ne chante plus, il pleure," and it is not 'lui' on the albums cover either.

I don't think I've heard any of it yet, but I can't say for sure because I've been letting radio RTL wake me up with howling noise, instead of the rata-tat-tat of the all-news radio France-Info.

New This Week: SportsNews!

Prix d'Amerique

Le Parisien is a great paper for sports and it should be because it is owned by the sports daily, L'Equipe. So every day Le Parisien has lots of SportsNews and a good deal of every day's coverage is about horse racing.

I do not read SportsNews as a rule and I only read the racing news once a year. So it should come as no surprise to me that a Big Event can suddenly be seen on the TV-news without warning.

This happening tonight with the surprise announcement of tomorrow's running the prestige trotting race; called here the 'Prix d'Amerique,' which is having its 77th trial.

Now, SportsFans, we go fast forward to Sunday night's TV-news for the results. Before the results, let me say that it looked like there was a huge turnout for the race - which, if you look at the dateline above - was run - did run - on Sunday, 25. January, and there is no mistake that winter is here.

The horse, Defi d'Aunou won it in record time, driven by Jean-Pierre Dubois, who is also the trainer. The second horse picked as favorite, Echo, was also trained by Mr. Dubois.

The pot for the race, is the second largest, after the Hambletonian in the USA. Something on the order of 220 million francs had been bet on the race, when Le Parisien wrote its report Friday night.

Football Stade de France Schmozzel

The brand-new World Cup stadium, the Stade de France, is to be test-played next Wednesday with a real match between France and Spain. Yesterday, the Minister of Transport japanese barbeque inaugurated the two SNCF stations that will serve the new stadium.

Last week I wrote about the inadequate road access to the stadium and since then transport unions have called for strike, specifically on the lines serving the stadium, for Wednesday's match.

Judging from the number of different oriental restaurants in Paris, there is something universal about them.

The word was circulating that somebody was going to hire 700 buses to truck in fans and one union pulled its strike alert off the RATP's line 13; while the union's HQ put a new strike alert on the whole system.

SNCF managers believe they can pull in enough non-striking personal to roll the trains, but are worried about too many fans being on the quais if the trains are irregular.

The game is supposed to start at 20:30, and the Minister of Transport has suggested everybody start heading for the stadium around 17:00. Real SportsFans are making sure their bike tires are pumped up.

The World Cup SportsBar May Go to Sleep at Times, But Never Closes

Real SportsFans should hang out the SportsBar where the fans have all the eggnog they can make themselves, at the Football Café, and have relaxing bowls of popcorn while discussing the finer points of the world of football, without getting too 'psychorigide' about it. Cool.

Less uplifting are the 'official' Web sites: represenred by the FIFA - which stands for Federation International - and the French Organizing Committee, known to all far and wide as the CFO. I don't what the initials stand for, just like SNCF does not sound like RR to me.

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