France Jails Nazi Officer in Absentia, Syria Accused of Giving him Asylum
A Paris court has sentenced in absentia a senior Nazi officer to life imprisonment for sending hundreds of Jewish children to their deaths in extermination camps, said reports.
Alois Brunner, believed to be hiding in Syria, was found guilty of arresting and deporting 345 Jewish children from France to Auschwitz death camp in German-occupied Poland in 1944, according to CNN.
Serge Klarsfeld, a French Nazi hunter who has pursued the case since 1987, said "we regret that the dock is empty but this is a case in which the criminality of the criminal does not have to be proven.
About 15 people stood outside the Paris courthouse Friday brandishing pictures of the children deported by Brunner and accusing Syrian President Bashar Assad of giving him asylum, said CNN.
Austrian-born Brunner was right-hand man to Adolf Eichmann, the architect of the "Final Solution" who once described Brunner as one of his best men, said AFP.
Reputed to be hyper-efficient in the field of deportations, he was sent by Eichmann to accelerate the round up of Jews in Austria, France, Greece and Slovakia, said the agency.
By the end of the war, he was believed to have dispatched 128,500 people to their deaths in extermination camps.
He also won a terrifying reputation on the French Riviera, where he spent two months at the end of 1943 following Italy's armistice with the Allies, hunting down Jews who had sought refuge in the relative safety of the Italian-occupied zone around Nice, CNN said.
After the war he escaped detection by taking on a false identity and worked for two years for the US occupying forces in Germany, before fleeing to Egypt in 1954 and from there to Syria, where he was reportedly protected by the Syrian government, said AFP.
Friday's trial was the fourth in recent years of senior figures from war-time France.
The others convicted were Klaus Barbie, the Gestapo chief in Lyon, pro-Nazi militia leader Paul Touvier, and Maurice Papon a former official of France's war-time Vichy regime, said the agency - Albawaba.com
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