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Papon Too Unhealthy To Resume Trial

November 24, 1997

PARIS (AP) _ A court doctor who has examined war crimes suspect Maurice Papon thinks the former Vichy official is not strong enough to attend the scheduled resumption of his trial later this week, a judicial source said Monday.

The 87-year-old Papon, whose lawyers say is suffering from double pneumonia and a virus, was hospitalized a week ago and his trial suspended until at least Thursday.

Papon, a police supervisor for France’s collaborationist Vichy regime, is accused of ordering the arrests of 1,690 Jews who were deported to Nazi concentration camps.

Rene Pariente, a lung specialist at the Beaujon Hospital in Paris, examined Papon at a clinic outside Bordeaux Saturday and was to officially give the court his opinion on Wednesday.

The judicial source, who spoke on condition of anonymity by phone from Bordeaux, said Pariente told the court Monday that Papon would not recover in time to go to court this week.

Presiding judge Jean-Louis Castagnede is expected to rule Thursday on whether to postpone the trial yet again due to Papon’s poor health. The judge already freed Papon from jail pending the outcome of his trial.

Papon is the highest ranking former French official to be charged with crimes against humanity for his actions during the war.

Lawyers for the victims and their families accused Papon of using his health as a tactic to delay the trial, which was about to consider the key question of his role in organizing convoys that took Jews to internment camps, the last step before they were sent to Auschwitz.

But one of the civil parties’ lawyers, Michel Zaoui, sought to put in perspective the likelihood the trial will again be delayed. ``The civil parties have waited for 50 to 55 years. So a week or two, even two months more, is not important,″ he told France Info radio.