France Frees Accused War Criminal

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BORDEAUX: A French court Friday freed accused Nazi collaborator Maurice Papon for the duration of his trial. The move, according to TIME Paris Bureau Chief Tom Sancton, makes it less likely that Papon will ever serve time. "Even if he’s convicted," says Sancton, "he’ll remain free through an appeal process that could take as long as two years." This would mean the ailing 87-year-old would not be imprisoned until he was 90 — which may make authorities less inclined to jail him at all.

The trial, over whether Papon ordered the deportation of Jews, represents France’s last chance to examine a shameful period in its history. “This is not just a trial of the actions of an individual," Sancton says. "It’s being structured to allow France to air its dirty linen.” Papon, however, may no longer be hung out to dry.