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Paul Touvier, infamous French criminal

Paul Touvier (1915 - 1996) was one of only two Frenchmen to be convicted of war crimes against humanity (the other was Maurice Papon). He was born in south-western France.

Sympathetic to the ideas of Marshall Petain, Touvier joined the "Milice", a militia of the Vichy regime which collaborated with the Nazis against French partisans. Touvier was 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 10 September 1946, he was sentenced to death in absentia by the French courts for treason and collusion with the enemy.

By 1966, implementation of his death sentence was statute-barred on the 20-year time limitation. 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, 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 3 July 1973, a complaint was filed in Lyon Court against Touvier charging him with crimes against humanity. Glaeser accused Touvier of ordering the assassination of seven Jewish hostages at Rillieux-la-Pape, near Lyon, on 29 June 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. It wasn't until 1989 that Touvier was found hiding in a monastery in Nice.

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, 20 additional charges were made by individuals and associations against him.

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

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