Matter of Barbie
France Court of Cassation, Criminal Chamber
78 I.L.R. 125 (1988)
Klaus Barbie (defendant) was a lieutenant of the Gestapo when Germany occupied France from 1942–1944. France issued a warrant for Barbie’s arrest, and Barbie fled to Bolivia. The tribunal in France tried Barbie in absentia. Barbie was convicted of war crimes and sentenced to death. Bolivia denied France’s extradition requests because the countries had no extradition treaty. In 1982, Barbie was charged in France with additional crimes against humanity, including the murder of 4,342 people, arbitrary arrests, deportation of 7,591 Jews and 14,311 members of the French Resistance to concentration camps, torture, illegal imprisonment, brutality, and assassinations. Bolivia subsequently deported Barbie for falsely obtaining citizenship, thereby allowing for his arrest by France. The chambre d’accusation in France limited the crimes against humanity with which Barbie could be charged to those involving the persecution and killing of Jews based on race and religion under the Nazi regime. The chambre d’accusation held that crimes against the French Resistance were barred by the statute of limitations because they were deemed war crimes as distinguished from crimes against humanity, which were not subject to a statute of limitations. The government (plaintiff) appealed. The appellate court affirmed that the crimes against the French Resistance were barred by the statute of limitations. The case was then appealed to the Supreme Court of France.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Per curiam)
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