WWII deportees' families prepare to sue SNCF

28th August 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Aug 28, 2006 (AFP) - Some 200 families whose relatives were deported by France's pro-Nazi Vichy regime during World War II are to sue the national rail operator SNCF for millions of euros in damages, their lawyer said Monday.

PARIS, Aug 28, 2006 (AFP) - Some 200 families whose relatives were deported by France's pro-Nazi Vichy regime during World War II are to sue the national rail operator SNCF for millions of euros in damages, their lawyer said Monday.

The case follows a landmark ruling in June, in which the French state and the rail firm were fined EUR 62,000 euros for their role in the wartime deportation of two Jewish men. The SNCF has appealed the conviction.

The families, who include French, Israeli, Belgian, Canadian and American nationals, will launch their legal action in September, according to their lawyer Matthieu Delmas. He did not specify if all, or any, were Jewish.

They intend to demand "compensation for the prejudice suffered as a result of (their relatives') deportation — in livestock wagons, in inhuman conditions, knowing full well that people risked being murdered," he said.

Initially they plan to ask the SNCF for an overall settlement "in the region of" several million euros, giving it two months to reply before taking the matter before an administrative court, he said.

In June, a French administrative court upheld a lawsuit 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, similar cases had been dismissed on the grounds that the SNCF was commandeered by the occupying German army, while the Vichy government was an aberration for which the post-war French state was not responsible.

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

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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