Switzerland expells convicted Nazi-collaborator Papon

The Swiss authorities Friday expelled the former pro-Nazi Vichy official Maurice Papon, less than 24 hours after the fugitive was arrested by Swiss police on an international arrest warrant.

This content was published on October 22, 1999 - 18:11

The Swiss authorities Friday expelled the former pro-Nazi Vichy official Maurice Papon, less than 24 hours after the fugitive was arrested by Swiss police on an international arrest warrant.

Swiss Justice Minister Ruth Metzler announced the decision after an emergency meeting by the Swiss cabinet, which discussed the legal and political implications of the case.

Metzler told a news conference that the government did not want to shelter someone who had received a prison sentence for crimes against humanity. Papon left the country on a flight for France and was handed over to the French authorities Friday evening, said Swiss President Ruth Dreifuss.

The French government had urged Switzerland to swiftly extradite Papon since he had been found guilty and convicted of crimes against humanity for his role in sending Jews to Nazi death camps.

Swiss police detained Papon on an international arrest warrant after he failed to appear in a French court, Switzerland’s federal police authorities said Friday.

They told a news conference that Papon had been arrested at 10.40 p.m. at the Hotel Rössli in the mountain resort of Gstaad, 95 kilometers (59 miles) south of the capital Berne, Thursday night.

Lars Widmer, the son of the hotel manager, said Papon had been staying at the hotel since Saturday, using the name Robert De La Rochefoucauld and a passport in that same name.

Police said Papon did not resist arrest but, referring to his old age and state of health, said he wanted to see a doctor.

Papon was then taken to the Inselspital hospital in the capital Berne, where he received medical attention amid unconfirmed reports that he suffers from irregular heartbeat.

In April 1998, Papon was convicted by a French court 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 and much criticised decision that led to his flight.

On Thursday, the court issued an arrest warrant for Papon, who fled France for Switzerland last week.

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.


From staff and wire reports.



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