Maurice Papon, the former pro-Nazi Vichy official who fled France rather than face prison for his role in sending Jews to Nazi death camps, has been arrested in Switzerland, Swiss federal police said Friday.This content was published on October 22, 1999 - 16:47
Maurice Papon, the former pro-Nazi Vichy official who fled France rather than face prison for his role in sending Jews to Nazi death camps, has been arrested in Switzerland, Swiss federal police said Friday.
Papon, 89, was arrested in the Bernese Oberland resort region, according to the Federal Police Office, which said it was acting on an international arrest warrant issued the previous day in Bordeaux, France, after Papon failed to appear in court.
Papon was arrested at about 10.30 p.m. (2015 GMT) Thursday at the Hotel Rössli in the mountain resort of Gstaad, 95 kilometers (59 miles) south of the capital Berne, said Lars Widmer, the son of the hotel manager.
Widmer said Papon had been staying at the hotel since Saturday, using a false passport and name. The fugitive also told the Swiss policemen who arrested him that he wanted to see a doctor, Widmer added.
Papon was then taken to the Inselspital hospital in the capital Berne, amid unconfirmed reports that he suffers from irregular heartbeat.
A Swiss police office spokesperson said in a brief statement that more details would be announced later Friday.
A Swiss foreign ministry spokesman has said that, should Papon be found and detained in Switzerland, the Swiss government will very likely approve extradition to France, where Papon was found guilty of crimes against humanity.
The spokesman said that extradition would likely be approved for political reasons since Swiss law does not cover crimes against humanity.
The Court of Cassation in Paris ruled that Papon lost his right of appeal by failing to report to prison as required before Thursday's hearing. Under French law, the court ruling automatically confirms the conviction and it can no longer be appealed.
Papon was convicted in April 1998 for complicity in crimes against humanity for his role in the deportation of 1,590 Jews from the city of Bordeaux. Most of the deportees later perished at Auschwitz.
The Bordeaux court freed Papon during his trial and appeals process, a controversial decision that led to his flight and now is widely criticized.
On Thursday, the court issued an arrest warrant for Papon, who left France for Switzerland last week. His precise whereabouts had been unknown.
From staff and wire reports.
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