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>Israel Faxx
>JN Oct. 10, 1997, Vol. 5, No. 185

Deliberations Open in Papon Holocaust Trial

By Julian Nundy (VOA-Bordeaux)

Medical experts have recommended Maurice Papon, a former French budget minister accused of active involvement in the deportation of Jews from France to Nazi death camps during World War 2, should be moved from prison to a hospital during his trial. Deliberations opened this week in the city of Bordeaux.

Papon's lawyer argues his 87-year-old client, who is facing the charge of complicity in crimes against humanity, should be free during his 10-week trial because of his age and health.

The judge, after hearing medical advice, said he will announce the court's final decision Friday. The judge said two doctors who examined Papon decided ordinary prison conditions could present a danger to an old man suffering from heart problems. They recommended he spend the night in hospital while the case is heard.

Papon's lawyer said even a stay in hospital under police guard amounts to being a prisoner. He noted his client has always responded to legal summonses in the 16-years since the first accusations were leveled against him.

It would be unprecedented for a defendant facing such a serious charge in France not to be detained during his trial. Papon's lawyer complains the former minister is being kept in a tiny cell and is disturbed by other prisoners shouting insults.

Papon is accused of organizing rail convoys that took 1,600 Jews from the Bordeaux region to Nazi death-camps. During World War 2, Papon was a senior local official. He acknowledges he authorized the dispatch of the trains to a transit camp near Paris, but says he had no idea of the Jews' final destination or that most of them would die.

His lawyer said the trial should be stopped now under the European Human Rights Convention. This convention stipulates trials of criminals should be held within a reasonable period. Papon is being tried for events dating back more than 50-years.

The lawyer said, although the crimes against humanity charge has no statute of limitations, his client cannot be compared with Nazi war criminals who fled Europe for South America, sometimes to hide for decades.

The lawyer said the wealth of literature available in France about the wartime period meant members of the jury have already formed an opinion about Papon's conduct.

Flak Flies in Failed Assassination Attempt

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israel's government continued to come under fire Thursday for its attempt to assassinate a leader of the Islamic Hamas movement in Jordan. But peace talks with the Palestinians were moving forward for the first time in eight months.

Three days after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appointed a high-level commission to investigate the failed assassination attempt, one of its members resigned, and Foreign Minister David Levy said he is considering doing the same. Levy has threatened to resign before, but this time, he says, he is serious.

Meanwhile, Israeli-Palestinian committees discussing various issues continued to meet, following Monday night's formal resumption of talks and Tuesday's midnight summit. Both sides say there is a greatly improved atmosphere, with some progress already on economic issues, and more expected next week.

Russia Says It Foiled Iranian Attempt to Buy Missile Technology

By IINS News Service

Moscow -- Russia's security services said that Iran tried to obtain missile technology from Russian companies, while insisting that all such attempts have been thwarted, the Associated Press reported.

Israel's TV Channel Two said it had obtained evidence that the Russian government was helping Iran develop long-range missiles that could reach Israel, although Russia repeatedly denied the report. Russia acknowledged for the first time that Iran had tried to get missile technology, mentioning an attempt earlier this year to have the Russian company NPO Trud build components for missile engines, disguised as equipment for gas compressor stations, AP said, citing a statement by a Federal Security Service spokesman.

Israel and the US have accused Iran of sponsoring international terrorism and of attempting to construct long-range missiles and nuclear weapons, a charge Iran denies.

50 Years of Aliyah to Israel

In light of the collapse of the central planning committee for Israel's jubilee celebrations, at least two government ministries are planning their own festivities. The Ministry of Absorption is planning dozens of different events featuring the subject of immigration to Israel.

The Ministry is planning a central event in a city with an immigrant population of at least 25%, an international seminar on the topic of aliyah, a song festival for children of olim, exhibitions, and more. The Education Ministry is also planning alternative events of its own to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the State.

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