A New Suspension for the Papon Trial

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Bistro Le Soleil blasted by sun in the rue de Clichy.

Stunning 'Find' by Civil Lawyer

Paris:- Saturday, 31. January 1998:- Late in Wednesday's session of the trial of Maurice Papon, Arno Klarsfeld, a lawyer for several groups of civil plaintiffs, dropped a bomb.

Using a press release, he announced that a family relationship existed between the President of the court, Jean-Louis Castagnède, and a family composed of deported victims - victims of the crimes for which Maurice Papon is accused.

Arno Klarsfeld and his father, Serge Klarsfeld, are both lawyers representing families of victims. They claim that it was impossible for President Castagnède to have been unaware of this relationship - to an aunt - because the names of all known victims were contained in court papers before the trail began.

President Castagnède says the existence of this relationship is a total surprise to him - his father died when he was an enfant and he never had contact with that side of his family; and he set out to verify the claim.

Serge Klarsfeld is president of the Association of the Sons and Daughters of the Deportees, and he believes the relationship, although cold, was well known to the court's president. He thinks President Castagnède is on the side of the defense.

The other civil lawyers in the case expressed their confidence with President Castagnède and characterized the move by the Klarsfelds as 'destabilizing.'

Arno Klarsfeld has asked the Appeals Court in Bordeaux to retire President Castagnède from the case, but it is not likely it will order this unless the family relationship turns out to be close.

Legal experts said that if President Castagnède was taken at Bob's, the hairdresser off the case it would have to start from zero again, as no other judge knows the 'dossier d'instruction.' For this reason, they doubted that he would be required to withdraw.

If you don't know what it is, you're at Bob's, the hairdresser.

Everybody except Maurice Papon's defense lawyer, Mr. Vuillemin, is either angry or outraged. Le Parisien's headline says the trial has turned towards confusion, and Libération summed it up on its front page on Friday with, "Le Mauvais Proces Fait Au Proces Papon."

Due to the defendant's age, President Castagnède decided at the beginning to run the trail on half-day sessions. Then there were the 26 days accorded to the defendant for illness. There are 28 lawyers representing the civil parties, and three for the defense.

More than 150 witnesses have been heard - some as long as three months ago; certain unforgettable points have been made, but how long will it be before all is before the court?

On Thursday, the Bordeaux Appeals Court gave President Castagnède the green light to continue the trial.

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.

The National Assembly Debates the 35-hour Week

The number one worry of French residents is unemployment. Most people do not see the government's plans to officially cut the statutory work-week to 35 hours as a way to increasing employment.

All the same the government forged ahead early in the week and the grand debate about the proposed law was launched in the Assembly National.

This debate is led by Martine Aubry for the government. She is a 47 year old graduate of France's prestigious Administrative University - the ENA - a former General Director of the industrial giant, Pechiney, the first assistant mayor of Lille and present Minister of Employment as well as Prime Minister Lionel Jospin's second in command.

Martine Aubry is also Socialist deputy in the Assembly National. Throughout the week Le Parisien has been devoting a lot of pages to this issue - and it seems as if the weakest point to it is, nobody thinks it can be done.

Elsewhere I have read the opinions of economists who are either for it or against it; and the arguments seem about even. As one reader recently pointed out, debates are a favorite pastime in France and go on until it comes down to the nut, then a compromise deal is made, and life goes on.

But we are in a situation where 'life is not going on' for a lot of people - several millions - and many of them would rather hear debates about how to increase the number of new jobs rather than shortening the hours of existing ones.

One time when I was an union member, the union's leaders called this 'spreading the misery' because it was a management proposal. The idea was for everybody to work and be paid for seven hours; so that three shifts could be maintained.

On a 'last hired - first fired' basis, the union's idea of sticking to the eight-hour shift would have forced management to lay off the entire third shift, which was composed almost entirely of the 'last-hired.'

There was a minor skirmish with the union forcing a 'slow-down' until the management announced a 'lock-out' unless there was a 'speed-up' and there wasn't, so I got the rest of the day to spend on the beach - which I needed because I had been used as the instrument to create the 'slow-down,' which required me to work faster than I could. They talked all weekend and on Monday it was back to work as usual.

Many people now with standard 39 or 40-hour work weeks routinely work longer hours, especally if they are paid by month; and these include managers - who sometimes work incredibly long hours.

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