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Vichy Official Papon Gets Pacemaker

January 13, 2000

PARIS (AP) _ A former Vichy official who is serving a 10-year prison term for his role in deporting Jews during World War II underwent heart surgery to have a pacemaker fitted, his lawyer said Thursday.

Maurice Papon underwent surgery Wednesday night at the Jean-Rostand hospital in Evry, outside Paris, attorney Francis Vuillemin said.

Papon is the highest-ranking official of the pro-Nazi Vichy regime to be convicted of crimes against humanity committed during World War II. His high-profile trial lasted six months, France’s longest criminal trial.

He began serving his sentence in October after France’s highest court upheld a 1998 conviction for complicity in crimes against humanity committed while he was a high-ranking police official in the Gironde region between 1942-44. He continues to deny any wrongdoing.

Shortly before the final verdict, Papon fled to Switzerland, but was quickly apprehended and brought back to France. He was then briefly hospitalized because of heart trouble.

Papon’s defense team, arguing that his prison sentence is endangering his health, has put in a request for a presidential pardon. Papon underwent triple bypass surgery several years ago.

President Jacques Chirac has the power to issue a pardon for medical reasons that would allow Papon to go free. Requests for such pardons are first studied by the Justice Ministry.

Papon enjoyed a brilliant political career in postwar France, serving first as Paris police chief under then-President Charles de Gaulle, and later as budget minister under President Valery Giscard d’Estaing.

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