Papon Gets 10 Years

bistro: au vrai paris
The name of this bar is apt - for 65 years ago.

Le Pen Loses Civil Rights; Is Fined

Paris:- Saturday, 4. April 1998:- On Thursday, Maurice Papon was found guilty of Crimes Against Humanity and was sentenced to a 10 year prison term. Since the sentence will be appealed, he will remain free until a final decision by the appeals court.

The verdict was reached after 19 hours of deliberation by a jury of nine laymen and women, and three judges. They entered the Bordeaux assize court at 9:02 to hear the verdict pronounced by the President of the court, and by 9:29, condemned, Maurice Papon walked out of the courthouse with his lawyers.

The dominate opinion of the last weeks of the trial was reached. Papon: guilty; but not 'as guilty' as Paul Touvier or Klaus Barbie, both also tried for Crimes Against Humanity. Thus, a sentence of less than life-imprisonment, satisfied opinion.

This idea was first put forward by Serge Klarsfeld; it was thought by some to be a 'devaluation' of the crime. However, any way it was looked at, Maurice Papon was no head of the Vichy police like René Bousquet or his assistant, Jean Leguay. The public prosecutor demanded 20 years, and 10 were settled on.

When the trial started in October, one could have imagined a long and serious lesson in history.

Instead, it became a trial of spectacles, surprises; the prosecution was not sure of itself, witness did not say what was expected, judges were not in agreement, lawyers staged surprises; there were interruptions, suspensions - and the jury had to follow a dark thread through all of this.

The defendant, Maurice Papon, came to defend himself, with vigor, pride, sometimes contemptuous; sometimes too ill to take the stand because of his age.

The prosecution did its homework imperfectly. Nobody from Germany was questioned or even sought. Co-workers of Papon were ignored. This was little 'hard' evidence; little paper, fewer signatures. Very few eyewitnesses.

But out of the mass of dialogue, paper, an administrative undertone came through. An 1942 order to prevent Jews leaving Bordeaux by train. An arrested mother leaving her children withmotorcycles a neighbor. A later order to fetch these children. If the mother knew, how ignorant was Papon?

In the end, the jury did not accept the defense thesis of lack of proof, nor that it was a 'collective crime.' Nor did they accept 'life imprisonment.' They refused this to a scapegoat, but they refused to let him go home whitewashed.

On Friday, the court, in a civil session, ordered Papon to pay 4.6 million francs for legal fees for the civil parties, and damages to the victims and their lawyers. More than 20 lawyers, representing 20 organizations and 54 individuals, have been working for the past six months on the trial, without compensation. Some have been working on the case for 17 years.

Five months and 25 days after the trail began, it was over. The Ministry of Justice estimates it has cost taxpayers more than 15 million francs. Maurice Papon is thought to be insolvent.

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 End of the Untouchables

In an editorial in Friday's edition of Libération, Serge July says the conviction of Maurice Papon is sure to be a profound shock to the administration, which he describes as the backbone of the country:

'The religion of the public functionary, where the gentlemen lawyers, the engineers and the technocrats form an all-powerful state bourgeoisie; concocted by all regimes as the virtual vertebral column of the nation, and which has, through the centuries, been an active part of its greatness.

'But the history of this has its black pages. Until now, access to them has been forbidden. These 'untouchables' escape common laws which judge ordinary man's responsibility for their acts.

'[Maurice Papon] was simply general-secretary of the prefecture. He was condemned, not for any tragic accord with a monstrous ideology - but for his activity as a high functionary - efficient and indifferent to the consequences of his acts.

'Until now, a high functionary in France has been considered as one from whom it would be unthinkable to demand accounting for administrative acts.

'Nobody should forget it, starting with the high functionaries of today. By ricochet, they have suddenly stopped being untouchable.'

The Anti-Papon

Friday's Libération has seven pages relating to the Papon trial. One-third of one of them is about Bernard de Chalvron, who was a diplomat and an agent for the military cabinet of Field-Marshal Pétain at Vichy.

In July 1942 he had enough. In August he wrote, "It is enough to remember that simply being French comes before loyalty or being a Pétainist."

From that moment, he was in the resistance. He furnished accounts of government meetings to the US Embassy. A few months later, he joined and ran the resistance network, 'Super Nap.' Bernard de Chalvron was caught and sent to Buchenwald, like 24,000 other French resisters and political 'outlaws.' He was freed from the camp by the US Army in April 1945.

Who knew what, when? Didier Epelbaum, the author of this 'Anti-Papon' article, writes that two months after the invasion of Poland, one could read in a French Jewish paper, that the "total destructionbar sans souci of Polish Judaism is at the mercy of Hitler and it is only a question of months, if not weeks.

"Polish Jews face physical annihilation if the Nazi regime continues." This 1939 message was repeated in a BBC broadcast in May of 1942. At about the same time, prisoners at the Drancy camp near Paris were talking about being sent to 'Pitchipoï,' which was someplace close to nowhere.

Like a lot of French in the summer of 1942, Bernard de Chalvron - like Papon too - knew that Jewish women and their children were shipped out of France in freight wagons, and that old people were torn out of their beds at the Rothschild Hospital.

He saw large groups of police involved in round-ups and saw them watching the train stations and major roads. He knew the 'exclusion doctrine' of the regime and he saw it go into action.

Like other French, seeing these things provoked in Bernard de Chalvron an "Universal revolt against the treatment inflicted on Jews." Prefects noted a shifting French opinion, and the "sympathy of the Parisians for the Jews" during the round-ups in July 1942. Some wrote to Pétain to protest against 'French dishonor.' Bishops spoke of it.

This mobilized thousands of men and women, to save and hide Jews on the run from the police. To the French, 'crimes against humanity' began when women, children and the aged, were put behind barbed wire. It was a time to act; later was too late.

Certain state functionaries resisted; others, like Papon, threw their entire competence at the problem, to limit the negative 'fallout' as much as possible. In France, 76,000 Jews did not escape the attention of Papon and his colleagues.

Le Pen Convicted of Assault

Regional Councilor and European Deputy, Jean-Marie Le Pen, was sentenced yesterday in Versailles to three months - suspended - and fined twice; once for 20,000 francs and the second, for 3,000 francs. In addition, he was declared to be ineligible to run for public office for two years.

He did not bother to show up in court to hear this sentence. It was the result of a fracas in Mantes-la-Jolie on 30. May 1997, during the election campaign there. Le Pen was in town to support his daughter and ended up assaulting the Mayor, Annette Peulvast-Bergeal, who was re-elected as a Socialist Deputy.

Mr. Le Pen denounced the trial as a political-judicial plot against him and the Front National. In viewing the videos taken of the fray, the judges were more of the opinion that his provocative and aggressive behavior was incompatible with his position as an elected representative and a party leader.

According to a biography, 'Le Pen,' by Gilles Bresson and Christian Lionet, Mr. Le Pen has a rap sheet going back to 29. April 1948. Street brawls in the '50's, '60's, plus 'insulting the President of the République' in 1963, and more brawls in '69 added up an ever-growing score.

With the founding of the Front National in 1972, he needed to clean up his act and this he did by suing journalists for slander, with some successes. Numerous instances of convictions for provoking hate, discrimination or racial violence followed. He got a 10,000 franc fine in 1991 for the anti-semitic 'Durafour, Crématoire.' For this, the European Parliament lifted his immunity.

Despite this sorry record, he claims to have 'won' all his cases, but now seems getting ready to pose as a martyr.

Meanwhile in Munich, a court there has gone beyond ways of studying how to get Mr. Le Pen's parliamentary immunity lifted so he can be charged with hate-mongering and denying Nazi history.

At a meeting of Nazi-sympathizers in the Bavarian capital last December, he said - again - "...le chambres à gaz ne sont qu'un détail de l'Histoire."

And just to be sure everybody got the message loud and clearly, he repeated it for Radio France microphones, "If you take a book with a thousand pages about the Second World War, concentration camps occupy two pages and gas chambers ten or 15 lines. This is called a detail."

The 'detail' the Munich prosecutor will be seeking is a five-year jail term. He has a copy of the Radio France tape and the request to lift parliamentary immunity so that Le Pen can be extradited has gone to Germany's foreign office, for transmission to the European Parliament.

Sports But Non-World Cup News

Saturday Night Football in Saint-Denis

Paris sportsfans went gaga tonight when the home team, Paris-Saint-Germain, known as PSG, crushed Bordeaux in the new Stade de France in front of 77,700 spectators, some of whom were Bordeaux fans; by a score of two to two.

That this can be called a 'stupendous' victory is only due to the very arcane rules of football. As seen on TV-news, PSG stars scored at least a dozen goals, or two goals from six different camera angles. Bordeaux playersapres le bal seemed to score none, so being credited with two was in itself a considerable feat.

The PSG victory came only three days after the capital's only football club made its final decision to make the antique and tiny Parc des Princes its home turf; rejecting the prestige and seating capacity of the brand-new World Cup stadium.

From what I can understand, PSG is only in 5th place in the French national league standings, but through some ultra complicated scheme of goal scoring, has managed to advance itself to the UEFA European Cup competition - by beating Bordeaux on points.

In one paragraph, out of a two-page report, Le Parisien admits that Bordeaux was 'trés performant' at the beginning of the match. A following page has a bit more from Bordeaux - but - PSG faces Olympic Marseille on Wednesday.

Sunday Afternoon At Wembly Stadium

France's other football team, this time playing rugby in the Five Nations Tournament, wiped out Wales with a score of 51 to zero, in front of 75,000 spectators - few of whom were rooting for the home team as it was not playing.

This victory amounted to a 'Grand Chelem' - plural: Grands Chelems - pronounced, Grand Slam; for the second year running for the French team. They would rather have won it in the Parc des Princes, but they are happy enough.

Now all they have to do is beat Australia, South Africa and New Zealand - before they can call it a year.

Sunday Morning Marathon in Paris

It was cold and windy when 22,000 runners left the starting on the Champs-Elysées and two hours, nine minutes and thirty-seven seconds later Kenyan Jackson Kabiga crossed the finish line, to beat the old record for the 42.195-metre course.

Nicole Caroll, an Australian, was the first lady to cross the line and she did so after 2 hours, 27 minutes and six seconds. If ranked with the men, she would have come in 46th overall. As far as I can make out, Metropole's runner was not one of the top 100 finishers, and it is not exactly certain he took part in the race.

With only one page devoted to this event, Le Parisien's coverage verges on the skimpy. Many of the participants came from afar for the 22nd running of the annual event, and the highest 'French' finisher was Guennani of Morocco, who trains with Créteil. He came in 4th. The top French-French runner, Monciaux, captured the 14th place.

The World Cup SportsBar Now Open Forever

Seven mornings a week real SportsFans gather at the SportsBar, known as the Football Café to discuss the any points of the previous evening's game of foots and balls, without getting too 'Brazil-Brazil' about it. If the game was cancelled on account of rain, SportsFans do not talk about anything; not even the weather.

Less uplifting are the 'official' Web sites: represented 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 RATP does not sound like métro to me.

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