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France21 December 2002

Court bans film of wartime collaborator’s trial

Reporters Without Borders protested today against a Paris court’s ban on a cable TV station showing lengthy extracts from the trial of Second World War collaborator Maurice Papon, who held a top position during the Nazi occupation of France.

The organisation said the ban deprived French citizens of the right to be informed about the history of their country and expressed surprise that showing film of a trial that had been open to the public could be seen as harming the rights of the accused.

The court said the broadcasts, coinciding with Papon’s appeal next month against his 10-year jail sentence for complicity in crimes against humanity, would be "prejudicial to a fair hearing" of the appeal. Papon, secretary-general of the prefecture of the southwestern Gironde department of France during the war, had asked for the ban.

The cable TV station Histoire planned to broadcast 80 hours of Papon’s 1997-98 Bordeaux trial in 40 episodes between 13 January and 21 February. It obtained official permission to do so in June.

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