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Paul Touvier

Paul Touvier (1915 - 1996) is the only Frenchman to be convicted of war crimes against humanity. He was born on April 3, 1915 in Saint-Vincent-sur-Jabron[?], Alpes de Haute-Provence, in south-western France.

Sympathetic to the ideas of Marshall Petain, Touvier joined the "Milice[?]", a pro-Nazi militia which collaborated with the Germans against the French underground. Touvier was eventually appointed head of the intelligence department in the Chambéry[?] Milice under the direction of Klaus Barbie and in January 1944 became second regional head of the Vichy Government.

After the liberation of France by the Allied forces, Touvier went into hiding. On September 10, 1946, he was sentenced to death in absentia by the French courts for treason and collusion with the enemy. He was arrested in 1947 while trying to hold up a bakery shop but was able to escape.

By 1966, implementation of his death sentence was statute-barred on the twenty-year time limitation. Following this, attorneys for Touvier filed an application for a pardon asking for the lifting of the life-time ban on leaving the country and the confiscation of goods linked to his death penalty. In 1971, French President Georges Pompidou granted him the pardon. Pompidou's pardon caused a public outcry that escalated when it was revealed that most of the property Touvier claimed as his own had in fact been property seized from deported Jews.

On July 3, 1973, a complaint was filed in Lyons Court against Touvier by Georges Glaeser charging him with crimes against humanity. Glaeser accused Touvier of ordering the assassination of seven Jewish hostages at Rillieux-la-Pape, near Lyons, on June 29, 1944, in retaliation for the murder the previous evening of Philippe Henriot, the Vichy Government's Secretary of State for Information and Propaganda. After being indicted, Touvier disappeared again but through his lawyers, years of legal maneuvering ensued until finally a warrant was issued for his arrest on November 27, 1981. However, it wasn’t until 1989 that Touvier was found hiding in a monastery in Nice. After his arrest, further information came to light showing that he had been aided for years by the Catholic church hierarchy in Lyon and later by some of the right-wing Catholic clerics.

Besides the charge of the murder of the seven Jewish citizens, Touvier was suspected of having played a significant part in the execution of a prominent human-rights leader and his wife, as well as being involved in several deportations of other Jewish citizens. During the two years following Touvier’s arrest, twenty additional charges were laid by individuals and associations against him.

Paul Touvier was granted provisional release in July 1991 and his trial for complicity in crimes against humanity only began on March 17, 1994. On April 20th, a nine-person jury found him guilty and he was sentenced to life imprisonment. His 1995 appeal was rejected by the Court.

Paul Touvier died of prostate cancer in a prison hospital in Fresnes[?], France, on July 17, 1996.

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