Papon quizzed on Algerians' deaths
According to the official record, only two people died when a peaceful Algerian march was brutally suppressed by Paris police on 17 October 1961. But historians and Algerian organisations say at least 200 people, maybe as many as 300, were drowned, shot or clubbed to death by police.
On the witness stand, Maurice Papon, admitted that "15 to 20" Algerian bodies were taken from the River Seine; he is the first official involved to admit such a high death-toll. But Mr Papon went on to claim the victims were "dissidents" killed by another faction of the Algerian demonstrators. The claim was greeted in France with a mixture of disbelief and anger. The interior minister, Jean-Pierre Chevenement, hinted he might allow police records to be opened in an attempt to clarify the mystery.
Mr Papon made his comments while answering questions on his conduct as a public official during the Vichy period and his high-flying career after 1945. He said the higher death tolls claimed by some for the Algerian march were "far-fetched".
Mr Papon, 87, is on trial for "complicity in crimes against humanity" for his part in the arrest and deportation of 1,500 Jews from the Bordeaux area in 1942-44. He told the court he had personally saved the lives of 139 Jews by striking them from the lists of those to be arrested. He rejected the prosecution's claim that he sought to advance his career by rounding up Jews as efficiently as possible.
He had, he said, "participated in the Nazi repression of the Jews with anguish." He had made "every effort to save as many members of the Jewish community as possible". He claimed he and his wife had "cried" at Christmas 1943, thinking of the Jews who had just departed (on his orders).
Startling as these claims were, they tended to undermine part of the case presented by Papon's own lawyers: that he was not aware that the Jews he rounded up would be sent to death camps.
- 2 California man brutally beat 82-year-old Sikh grandfather he mistook for 'one of those people'
- 4 Charles Kennedy 'had better judgement drunk than many sober politicians' says Ian Hislop
Amber Peat: Body found in search for missing 13-year-old who ran away after argument with her parents
California man brutally beat 82-year-old Sikh grandfather he mistook for 'one of those people'
Sepp Blatter resigns: FBI are investigating outgoing Fifa president, claims report
Alton Towers crash: Four guests seriously injured as Smiler ride carriages collide
Charles Kennedy dead: A guy once asked the Lib Dem leader who his favourite Muppet was and his letter response was wonderful
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination
Migrants in Kos: Photos show real tragedy after Brits abroad complain of 'awkward' holidays
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
Michael Gove determined to scrap the Human Rights Act – even if Scotland retains it
Threat to scrap Human Rights Act could see UK follow Nazi example, warns UN official
Church of England 'one generation away from extinction' after dramatic loss of followers
£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company has over 40 years ...
£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This high quality thread manufacturer is curr...
£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A market leading acquirer and m...
£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fully qualified electricians re...