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PARIS (AP) _ A French appeals court ordered the release Wednesday of Maurice Papon, a former police chief imprisoned for his role in deporting Jews to Nazi death camps, his lawyer said.

Papon, 92, has been serving a 10-year prison sentence since 1999 for complicity in crimes against humanity. Papon was the highest ranking French official sentenced for collaboration with the Nazis. His six-month trial, the nation's longest, reopened painful memories about France's wartime collaboration.

His lawyers have repeatedly asked that Papon be released from La Sante prison in Paris because of his age and ill health, and his case has sparked an ongoing debate in France about jailing the elderly.

The former Vichy official had triple coronary bypass surgery several years ago and had a pacemaker implanted in January 1999.