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Dernière mise à jour : le 01/11/2002

Translation by Randall Cherry

 Court Hearing held on October 10th

After the anger, the parties’ reactions

 Following the Court of Assize’s decision to allow Papon to be released on his own recognizance until his next court appearance, there was a strong show of emotion and anger by the parties to the civil action, leading to a suspension of the hearing. In the late afternoon, the parties and their attorneys jointly decided to respond to the decision.

Upon the announcement of this scandalous decision, the anger expressed was vociferous. Several parties threatened to withdraw their action, claiming that the case now seemed futile since, in any event, Papon would avoid prison, even if he were found guilty.

Here are several of our reactions, the strongest protest no doubt being the one by Attorney Klarsfeld.

"This decision is scandalous. Just a few hours away from the big Pardon, the presiding judge has pardoned Papon. It is an insult to the memory of our dead. It is an insult to the French people. Papon will never go to prison. In the face of the real facts and acts that are being brought to light, he will respond with unprecedented arrogance and haughtiness. I will not stand before the Court of Assize and endure the haughtiness of someone who has committed crimes against humanity."

Michel Slitinsky: "This decision contradicts the statements made by the Public Prosecutor and the General Attorney. All of a sudden, a shield has been put up, and we are not happy about that. We wonder if the supervisory authorities exerted some form of pressure."

More moderate, Attorney Boulnger stated: "I think this decision is courageous, if Papon is not here Monday, he’ll be escorted back by two law enforcement officers. There’ll be a battle. Even if he is sentenced, which is inevitable considering the gravity of the acts he committed and because he committed crimes against humanity, he will not go to prison. We are asking immediately that Lionel Jospin take all necessary measures to change the law so that Papon can be incarcerated."

After the show of strong emotion, calm finally returned, and after a meeting between all parties and their attorneys, the following statement was issued.

Following the decision by the presiding Judge Castagnede to allow Papon to be released on his own recognizance until his next appearance before the court, and in light of the emotion aroused among the parties, with some choosing to leave the court room, the lawyers then asked the judge to suspend the hearing so that we could meet.

Following such meeting, Attorney Boulanger, the spokesman for the parties, along with the parties themselves read the following unanimous decision reached by the parties in attendance.

1. The Court’s decision provoked a genuine emotion among the plaintiffs but, in view of the fact that the Court’s discretionary power is set down by Law, we shall abide by this decision.

2. Taking this decision into account, we shall ask the competent authorities to provide 24-hour police protection for Papon.

3. When the sanction is handed down, since we are convinced of Papon’s guilt, we are asking the authorities to make every possible effort to ensure that the sanction is applied immediately without waiting for the outcome of the appeal to the Supreme Court which, in any event, will only occur a year and a half later."

Michel Slitinsky:

"We were ridiculed by the judge who made a decision that contradicted what he had said the day before. We were duped by the decision favoring hospitalization at Hault Lévèque. It was just a masquerade. The old sick man was in fact doing well. If someone is sick you do not hospitalize him for 8 hours but for 24 hours or 48 hours. Unless it is to influence a court decision…"

Maurice Matisson:

"During the war, we fought against the Vichy government in which Papon was Secretary General for the Prefecture in Gironde.

He did not want to resign when he should have, sending our families to the hell of Auschwitz.

We fought against this treacherous government led by Marshall Pétain, who, I remind you, was sentenced to death for high treason.

We fought to rebuild the Republic and all of its institutions, including the magistracy.

We fought for 16 years to have Papon brought before the Court of Assizes. We succeeded. We are at the beginning of the proceeding. It so happens that the law gives a discretionary power to the Court of Assizes. It exercised such power. I would have preferred that Papon had been jailed in a hospital unit. We still have to fight step by step to obtain the sanction which will inevitably be handed down.



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© Affaire Papon - JM Matisson

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