Anger over an Act of Mercy

MICHEL EULER/AP

FREE TO GO: Papon benefited from a new law concerning ill or elderly inmates

Legal theatrics veered toward tragedy in another Paris courtroom last week, as an appellate tribunal freed convicted war criminal Maurice Papon from jail. The ruling — based on a new law allowing aged or ill inmates to be released if imprisonment is judged a threat to their lives — sparked widespread shock and protests.

Papon was found guilty in 1998 of complicity in crimes against humanity for his role in the deportation of 1,690 Jews to Nazi death camps during the German occupation of France. Despite his well-known activities in the collaborationist Vichy regime, Papon escaped punishment after...

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