France may have to pay for WWII deportations

17th May 2006, Comments 0 comments

TOULOUSE, France, May 16, 2006 (AFP) - The French state and the SNCF rail operator may face a fine of EUR 60,000 for their role in the deportation of Jews during World War II, after a state lawyer Tuesday urged their condemnation before a court in the southern city of Toulouse.

TOULOUSE, France, May 16, 2006 (AFP) - The French state and the SNCF rail operator may face a fine of EUR 60,000 for their role in the deportation of Jews during World War II, after a state lawyer Tuesday urged their condemnation before a court in the southern city of Toulouse.

If the case succeeds it will be the first-ever conviction of this kind before a French court.

The case was brought by the family of Green party deputy Alain Lipietz, whose father and uncle were taken by train to an internment camp in Paris in May 1944. Both survived the war.

Previous attempts to condemn the SNCF in criminal and civil courts have failed, and the current case before an administrative court rested on claims that the French state authorities, the police and the SNCF failed to provide their required services.

The "government commissioner" — a state jurist who makes a formal recommendation in administrative courts — said that two-thirds of the fine should be paid by the state and a third by the publicly-owned rail company.

A verdict is expected in three weeks.

In the past courts have ruled that the SNCF was commandeered during the war by the occupying German army, while the Vichy government was an aberration for which the post-war French state was not responsible.

But Lipietz said the jurispridence had changed since President Jacques Chirac in 1995 recognised France's role in the oppression of Jews, and the 1997 trial of Vichy official Maurice Papon proved the participation of the government in the deportations.

Lipietz's lawyer Remi Rouquette said that "in the round-ups, it was not the Gestapo but the French authorities who took action."

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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