Maurice Papon, a 92-year-old convicted Nazi collaborator, was released from prison Wednesday after serving only three years of a 10-year sentence for crimes against humanity. Despite the fact that Papon is in poor health, he should serve the rest of his sentence. His actions in France during the Nazi occupation were not forced, and, as such, he is an accessory to the murder of more than 1,600 Jews. French officials should show as much sympathy to him as he did to French Jews during WW II, and correct this injustice immediately.
Papon was second-in-command of the Bordeaux police during the Nazi occupation of France and signed papers that ordered the deportation of 1,690 Jews. Most were sent to Auschwitz. Following the war, Papon became chief of police in Paris and went on to attain a prominent position in the French government. So prominent, in fact, that French officials went to great, often clandestine, lengths to keep his case from going to trial.
Papon was finally convicted after a 6-month trial in 1999 and sentenced to only 10 years in jail, a miniscule sentence compared to the misery that Jews in Auschwitz faced. After his conviction, Papon attempted once again to cheat the system by fleeing to Switzerland. He has remained unapologetic for his actions. Now, apparently in ailing health, French law allows him to go home and spend the remainder of his life with his family.
The situation seems to have a cut and dry conclusion: Papon was at least partly responsible for the deaths of 1,690 individuals and the unlawful detainment of hundreds more. This man took lives and asking him to serve 10 years in prison is significantly less than he deserves in the first place, ailing or not. The French courts should revoke their decision and force him to finish his sentence. Even if he dies in prison, it’s still more humane than dying in Auschwitz.