Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal on Thursday said Maurice Papon, sentenced to 10 years for complicity in crimes against humanity, should have been jailed for life.
"Every such judgment must be for life," Wiesenthal said, reflecting widespread disappointment with the verdict of a French jury among Jewish groups.Predicting the 10-year sentence in a German radio interview just before the verdict was released, Wiesenthal said such a term was merely "a symbolic judgment and would amount to around two and a half days per victim."
Wiesenthal added, however, he saw some positive effect from the trial if it acted as a preventive measure for similar crimes, making their perpetrators realize that even after 50 years they were not immune from prosecution.
Speaking on NDR 4 radio, he said the conviction of Papon, a senior official in the collaborationist Vichy government of Nazi-occupied France, could nonetheless act as a warning to "tomorrow's murderers."
The state prosecutor in the case had recommended Papon be given a 20-year term rather than the life term possible, saying that while Papon played a vital role in the deportation of Jews to Nazi death camps, he was not solely responsible.
The 87-year-old Papon went on trial on October 8 last year, accused of ordering the arrest for deportation of 1,560 Jews, 223 of them children, between 1942 and 1944.
During this period he was secretary-general of the regional prefect's office in the southwestern city of Bordeaux in France and supervisor of its Service for Jewish Questions.
The jury, delivering its verdict after more than 18 hours of deliberation, found Papon guilty of complicity in crimes against humanity but not responsible for his victims' murders.