Papon trial halted by wife's death

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THE JUDGE in the trial of the accused Nazi collaborator Maurice Papon yesterday adjourned the proceedings for five days following the death of the defendant's wife of 65 years. Mr Papon's lawyers said a verdict in the nearly six-month-long trial was now expected next Wednesday.

Before the delay, a verdict had been due late tomorrow.

Paulette Papon, 88, died of cancer at the couple's home near Paris. Mr Papon had left Bordeaux to return home as soon as he heard the news. He was driven by car in the middle of the night under police escort.

The 88-year-old Mr Papon, who served as Paris police chief and budget minister after the Second World War, is accused of ordering the arrest for deportation of 1,560 Jews including 223 children in 1942-44 when he was secretary-general of the Bordeaux region Prefect's Office and supervisor of its Service for Jewish Questions.

Proceedings were started against him in 1981 but were obstructed by senior government officials unwilling to see their country's unsavoury wartime past dragged into the open.

- Reuters, Bordeaux