Book claims France paid Nazi criminal commission for arms deal
At the time, in the late 1970s, Barbie was a wanted man and had been sentenced to death in absentia by a French court.
Paris -- Nazi criminal Klaus Barbie, who died in a French prison, received a commission from the French government for an arms deal he helped negotiate with a former Bolivian dictator, according to extracts from a book published Thursday in the weekly L'Express.
According to the book, which consists of interviews with French General Pierre Aussaresses, Barbie was living in Bolivia under the name Klaus Altmann, when he helped negotiate a deal for tanks for the Bolivian strongman Hugo Banzer and the Austrian firm Steyr-Daimler- Puch.
At the time, in the late 1970s, Barbie -- who had been head of the Gestapo in the French city of Lyon during the German occupation -- was a wanted man and had been sentenced to death in absentia by a French court.
According to Aussaresses, the Bolivians wanted a more powerful cannon for the tank than the Austrians could provide, so Barbie procured French cannons. An arm of the French government paid Barbie a commission for the deal, the general said.
Known as the Butcher of Lyon, Barbie was discovered in the Bolivian capital La Paz by the French nazi-hunters Serge and Beate Klarsfeld and brought to France in 1983.
He was then re-tried and sentenced to life imprisonment because the death sentence had in the meantime been abolished in France. Barbie died in 1991.