Judge Rejects Third Demand That Barbie Attend Trial
May. 18, 1987
LYON, France (AP) _ Judge Andre Cerdini on Monday again rejected a demand by civil party lawyers to order former Lyon Gestapo chief Klaus Barbie, charged with crimes against humanity, to attend his trial.
It was the third time the judge had denied such a request since Barbie announced last Wednesday he would no longer attend the court sessions.
Monday's only witness, West German prosecutor Alfred Streim, testified that three documents linking Barbie to the deportation of Jews appeared to be authentic.
One attorney informed the court that several civil parties in the suit had received death threats.
Lawyers representing some of the former Nazi SS lieutenant's alleged victims demanded that Cerdini use his power to bring Barbie to the courtroom by force to face the witnesses.
Barbie, 73, is being tried for his activities during the German occupation of France in World War II and is charged with arresting, torturing and deporting hundreds of Jews and French Resistance members.
''This trial is that of Klaus Barbie,'' said Charles Kormann, an attorney for the International League Against Racism And Anti-Semitism - one of 129 groups or individuals participating in the case. ''Without Barbie, it is no longer that of Barbie.''
Cerdini's ruling was virtually the same as his two previous ones, saying that Barbie's presence ''does not in the present circumstances seem indispensable.'' His ruling left open the possibility that Barbie might be ordered to appear at some later date.
Streim, 55, is director of the West German center specializing in research into Nazi crimes. Shown the three documents, including one referring to the deportation of 44 children from a home in Izieu, east of Lyon, Streim said, ''I think we can say they are authentic.''
Speaking German, with his remarks translated into French, Streim also testified about the structure of the Nazi German command, particularly as it concerned a Gestapo sub-section assigned to deal with ''the Jewish question.''
He was asked if Barbie's name on documents indicated he was responsible for the actions described in them, and replied the name did not necessarily indicate responsibility for the action, but for the contents of the message.
Pierre Cohendy, a civil party attorney, opened the day's session by informing the three-judge court and nine-member jury that many of the civil parties and their lawyers had received anonymous telephone calls and abusive letters over the weekend, some threatening death.
He said he received a call on Saturday from a man who used foul language and called him names, accusing the lawyer of ''selling out to international Jewry.'' Another lawyer had a swastika painted on the door of his office, Cohendy said.
''I think it is tragic that in 1987 there are still people with a Nazi ideology, who still deny the existence of the (Nazi death) camps,'' he said.
Cerdini then completed reading the investigating magistrate's report dealing with the last rail convoy to leave Lyon with deportees to Germany on Aug. 11, 1944.
One judge asked if the report indicated Barbie was responsible for the convoy and if he was aware of the ultimate fate of the deportees in it.
Cerdini said there were no documents signed by Barbie linking him to the convoy, but he noted there were several witnesses claiming Barbie was present at Lyon's Perrache railway station that day.
The report said Barbie at first refused to answer questions about the ''final solution'' to the Jewish problem, but at a later interrogation he said: ''I was not aware of the fate reserved for the deported Jews'' until he heard after World War II of their killing at concentration camps.
Cerdini told the jurors that if Barbie was not aware of the fate of the deportees, it would only be a war crime, which is no longer valid because of the expiration of the statute of limitations. To be a crime against humanity, which has no statute of limitations, it must be proved Barbie knew of the exterminations, the judge said.
He noted that eliminating Jews was a German policy from 1941 until the Nazis' defeat in 1945, and mentioned several decrees from Berlin dealing with the killing and said Barbie should have been familiar with those decrees.