Dernière mise à jour : le 01/11/2002
Hearing of October 9th
Translation by David King
Sketches by Edith Gorren
"We, the plaintiffs, represent 1560
persons, old and young, whose only burial palace is here in this criminal court."
The thing that strikes me most today is the feeling of
confidence I have towards the criminal court and its presiding judge who guides the
proceedings with calm and dignity; the Public Prosecutor and the Assistant Public
Prosecutor both appear steadfast for our cause. The trial is well under way -- on the one
hand the serene purposefulness of the court contrasting with the bustle of the public
section and the media, on the other, the arrogance of the defence, the awkward presence of
the accused with his very uneven lawyer, by turns nasty and overbearing, in stark contrast
with our lawyers who appear to be old hands in a criminal court being held for crimes
against humanity, up to all the tricks and frequently unmasking the blunders made by the
defence. The quotation at the head of this report is from an intervention by Counsellor
The hearing resumes at 1.30 p.m. with presiding judge
Castagnède reading out the four-point conclusion of a statement by two medical experts,
Broustet and Chapenoire:
1°/ Papon is suffering from lung oedema and angina
2°/ Medical conditions at Gradignan are inadequate.
3°/ The discomfort of his cell is detrimental.
4°/ They recommend he be imprisoned in a cardiological
Papon in his glass cage has still yet to look at the
Public Prosecutor Desclaux:
"after hearing from the experts, it appears that the
sanitary conditions of Gradignan prison are incompatible with Papons state of
health. I demand that the request for his release be denied, but I ask the prison
authorities to do their best to see that imprisonment takes place in a cardiological
Counsel for the plaintiffs have no comment to make.
The defence thanks the court and comes back to its
request for release. The accuseds state of health is not consistent with his
defence. Defence counsel requests Papon not be imprisoned in a cardiological facility. He
says this is no ordinary trial, attacks Counsellor Klarsfeld and the plaintiffs in
permanent conference all over the public areas of the court, reproaches us with forgetting
the notion of human rights when it comes to Papon. To keep him in prison will call down a
verdict of guilty. Papons wish, our wish, the plaintiffs wish is to put an end
to the mourning for this period. Then, surprisingly, he announces that Papon is willing to
acknowledge the infamy of the acts he committed
Counsellor Varaut is doing better than he did
yesterday, much more feeling.
Since Papon remains silent, the presiding judge leaves his
decision under private consideration until Friday.
Counsellor Varaut brings forward a new point of law
by demanding that a judgement pure and simple be delivered by the criminal trial in the
light of European laws. He quotes Churchill:
"Crimes against humanity must be prosecuted to
the ends of the earth, to the end of time."
His arguments are:
"The file is empty - Papon has always asked to
be tried before a criminal court - Papon has things to say and has every intention of
saying them - The members of the jury werent born when the events took place - Papon
saved Frenchmen from the STO (compulsory labour service in Germany) (protests from the
audience) - There will be a huge conference of historians - He quotes the jury
dhonneur [panel set up to decide who collaborated with the Nazis or resisted them]
which absolved Papon - Sabatier acknowledged that he himself was responsible - Threatens
the magistrates by declaring them non-competent when it comes to impartiality - At a time
when both the Church and the police are repentant, he asks the court to show repentance
towards the only victim, Papon - Papon hasnt committed any of the acts he is being
accused of - Only a European court can try Vichy - Pétain, Laval, Bousquet and Leguay are
absent - He complains of the books published on the eve of Slitinsky and Counsellor
Boulangers hearing - To commit a crime against humanity, the perpetrator has to
support Nazi ideology - Chief Rabbi Cohen would have come and witnessed for him - Papon is
at most a very minor accomplice - Nothing would be more extraordinary than to end the
After a short suspension of the hearing, Assistant
Public Prosecutor Robert goes over the arguments of the defence one by one.
"Yesterday, the accused sought his release,
today he is trying to dodge the trial.
But behind all these arguments what are his true aims?
The defence is seeking the annulment of the
It is seeking the annulment of the preliminary
It is seeking the annulment of the criminal court
proceedings before they have begun.
It affirms that the court cannot judge because the
laws come under the statute of limitations
I believe that the claims of non-competence are an
insult to this court.
It appears as if the defence wanted nothing to do
with this trial.
The defence is mocking the law, no-one could
legitimately criticize the competence of the Criminal Court.
The notion of crime against humanity does not sit
well with the defence. Who in the court or among the jury can be unaware of the fact that
if Papon is justified he can ask for damages?
But what is this procedural manoeuver hiding? The
defence has another goal in view:
NAZI BARBARITY IS THE ALPHA AND OMEGA OF THE
DEPORTATION AND GENOCIDE OF JEWS. No. The acts imputed to the accused are serious; after
making out Papon yesterday as no ordinary accused, the defence today is trying to make him
out as an expiatory victim. I will not have it that Papon can pose as a victim, the
victims are here, they are the plaintiffs.
Let there be no mistake about this trial, let there
be no mistake about the victims.
Whose fault is it if the trial has been so long in
Who has employed so many subterfuges, who has
initiated so many legal proceedings, if not the accused himself? There was never, after
the war, any trial of the Prefectoral administration (and, I might also add: who was it
accused the plaintiffs of slanderous denunciations?) Papon did not go into hiding like
Barbie in Argentina. HE KNOWINGLY AFTER THE LIBERATION HID HIS COLLABORATION IN THE
DEPORTATION OF JEWS. We shall prove it.
We are beholden to French and international
legislators if, after 44 years, charges can still be laid.
IT IS FALSE TO ADVANCE THE BELIEF THAT TIME IS MORE
ON THE SIDE OF THE VICTIMS THAN THE ACCUSED.
The plaintiffs are crying out for justice."
then goes on to give the three reasons for the delay in
"The decision of the Appeals Court and the
problem of jurisdiction.
- The difficulties encountered by the investigating
magistrates in focusing the accusation against Papon.
- Bousquets involvement, it was not known who Bousquet
could be judged by.
- The complexity of the case made it extremely difficult for
it to be dealt with legally.
There is no possible comparison to be made between the
complexity of the Papon case and the complexity attendant on the trials of Touvier and
Barbie. The Papon affair is much more complex, having required for a period of eight years
the bringing together of 6 354 documents, hearing 95 witnesses, arranging 85 plaintiff
hearings and 15 drawn-out hearings of Papon.
He refers to the long list of legal actions brought by
Papon, most of them to no avail (except 2) and says that Papon too, in his day, knew how
to use and manipulate the media. He rejects the conclusions of the defence.
Counsellor Favreau then intervenes:
"What the plaintiffs want is not the trial of a state
or a city, what they want is the trial of one man. It is unbearable to hear that the
plaintiffs are guilty of wanting the trial to be unfair, and I have every confidence in
the Criminal Court and the jury. No accused has ever been given more consideration or more
privileges than Papon has. To dare claim that Chief Rabbi Cohen could have witnessed for
the defence is to make mockery of the memory of our dead. WE WANT THIS TRIAL TO BE FAIR
AND THE DEFENCE TO BE EQUALLY ARMED, THE BETTER FOR US TO OVERCOME IT."
Applause from the public
The presiding judge calms the public down
Counsellor Levy, for the FNDIRP, now speaks: "We have
heard the defence say one thing and then do the opposite. WE, THE PLAINTIFFS, REPRESENT
1560 PERSONS, OLD AND YOUNG, WHOSE ONLY BURIAL PALACE IS HERE IN THIS CRIMINAL COURT.
He then speaks of Papons cowardice in putting all the
responsibility onto Sabatier:
"BUT WHAT HE SINGLES OUT FROM VARAUTS
DECLARATION AND WHAT HE ASKS THE JURY TO REMEMBER ARE THE TWO CONFESSIONS MADE BY PAPON:
18th admission by the defence: he acknowledges
he committed crimes against humanity
19th admission by the defence: Papon said he
obeyed the law. But the law of Vichy mentions only the exclusion of Jews. In arresting
them, illegally confining them and deporting them from Merignac to Drancy, then from
Drancy to Auschwitz, what laws was Papon obeying. Was this not showing allegiance to Nazi
Counsellor Wetzer: "I am amazed that Counsellor Varaut
implied that Papon reportedly expressed his remorse in the course of a television
broadcast. I urge Papon to express his remorse in a little while when it comes his turn to
speak. Like the lawyers for the plaintiffs, there are too many of you for his taste,
Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury."
Lastly, Counsellor Blet, for the ANACR, gets worked up and
works up the public: "Counsellor Varaut never stops misleading people by stating that
Papon is an accomplice in crimes against humanity, THAT IS FALSE, THERE IS NO COMPLICITY -
WHAT HE IS CHARGED WITH IS DEPORTATION AND THAT HE CANNOT DENY. HE SIGNED WITH HIS OWN
Counsellor Varaut speaks again, then Papon responds to
Counsellor Wetzer. Everybody holds their breath, and I have to say that I thought for one
moment that Papon was about to excuse himself or express remorse, if only because three
times and for the first time since the beginning of the trial he has dared to look at us.
But his arrogance wins out and he suggests Counsellor Wetzer should go and rummage in the
waste-paper baskets of Antenne 2 [television station] where his remorse must be.
It was after this arrogant outbreak of anger that Papon had
his heart attack.
The presiding judge defers his decision to October 15.
Next, the list of witnesses is read out. Many have
withdrawn; most frequently for medical reasons backed up by doctors certificate.
Among the most famous are Jacques Chaban-Delmas, Roger Samuel Bloch, Valéry Giscard
dEstaing, René Monory, General de Boissieu. Of those who will be attending are
Henri Amouroux 17/10, Raymond Barre 17/10, Marc Olivier Baruch 28/10, Jacques Delarue
01/12, Gabriel Delaunay 5/12, Olivier Guichard 17/10, Jean Lacouture 23/10 and Messmer
16/10. The names of the other half of witnesses will be called out tomorrow.
Robert Abdesselam cannot come on 15/10, so will come on
Hélène Allaire 26/11
Henri Amouroux 17/11
Louis André withdraws, is passed over
Aymé Aubert 4/12
Michèle Aumont 15/10
Jean-Pierre Azema 23/10
Robert Baconnier 15/10
Eliane Badour cannot come, is passed over
André Balbin 27/11
Anne Bargues is passed over
Raymond Barre 17/10
Marc Olivier Baruch 28/10
Hubert de Beaufort 4/12
Bernard Bergerot 29/10
Michel Berges 1/12
Pierre Bilger is passed over
Roger Samuel Bloch cannot come (a projection of his
interview A2 is requested)
Général Alain De Boissieu is passed over or comes
Claude Bouchinet-Serreulles 21/10
Serge Bouder 10/11
Léon Boutbien 15/12
François Bouton 29/10
Jean Bozzy 15/10
André Briaud 29/10
Yvette Brunetière 5/12
Philippe Burin 24/10
Félix Caillat 14/10
Jean Caille 15/10
Christian Campet 3/12
Adrien Castanet 24/10
Yves Cazaux is passed over
Jacques Chaban Delmas is passed over
Roger Chaix 21/10
Ginette Chapel 15/10
Henri Chassaing 3/12
Maurice Claux 5/12
Asher Cohen deceased
Michel Cohen 20/11
Armand Coplet 7/12
Jacques Delarue 1/12
Gabriel Delaunay 5/12
Michel Didier 20/10
Maurice Doublet 21/10
Maurice Druon 22/10
Pierre Durand 27/11
Lucien Duval is passed over
Jean-Luc Enaudi 16/10
Roland Faugère is passed over
Roger Foustet is passed over
Georges Galichon is passed over
Georges Gaumont is passed over
Jacques Genton 20/10
Georges Gheldman 5/11
Valéry Giscard dEstaing later
André Gonzalez 14/11
André Gouron 1/12
Olivier Guichard 17/10
Louis Handschu is passed over
Lucette Hardi is passed over
M. Holtfort 27/11
Huguette Jacob is passed over
Jean Jaudel 22/10
Marie-Christine Jeaniot 3/12
Yves Jouffa, Mme De Gaulle, André Frossard, a recording of
their testimony at the Barbie trial will be played
Robert Lacoste 24/11
Jean Lacouture 23/10
Simone Lagrange 27/11
Révérend Père Lechot is passed over
Roger Levy 15/10
Roger Lhombreaud 4/12
Jean Lisbonne 14/12
M Moquet 14/11
Jean Matteoli 22/10
P Maushe 17/10
Yvette Moch 24/11
René Monory is passed over
Jean Morin 5/12
Berthe Muratte 24/11
In the next instalment we shall describe the
reactions of the plaintiffs, Elianne et Michel Dommange et Jackie Aliswaks.