The mayor of a Paris suburb has been fined for comparing the country”s police to the Second World War Vichy regime.
Patrick Chaimovitch, the Green party mayor of Colombes (Hauts-de-Seine) was filmed commenting on France’s gendarmes at a ceremony in July last year.
Chaimovitch could be heard comparing the actions of police officers who “track down migrants” in France to “their ancestors” who “carried out the Vel d’Hiv roundup”.
In July 1942, an estimated 13,000 French Jews were arrested in their homes by police and gendarmes before being rounded up at the Vélodrome d’Hiver to be sent to a concentration camp. Many of those arrested during World War II did not return from the camps.
On Tuesday, a French court in Nanterre fined Chaimovitch €3,000 for the remarks.
The mayor had “insulted French police officers” by comparing them to “sons of collaborators,” the court said.
Speaking at the trial, Chaimovitch said he understood that his comments were “ambiguous” and may have been misunderstood.
“When you are in a speech, you have to summarise. I tended to pick up on a number of remarks”, he said.
France’s Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin had denounced the mayor’s comments as “scandalous and unbearable remarks” and filed a complaint against Chaimovitch for publicly insulting the police and the national gendarmerie.
It was not until 1995 that Jacques Chirac became the first president to acknowledge France’s responsibility for the deportation of Jews during the Second World War.
Twenty years later, France also made public around 200,000 historical documents to shed more light on the Vichy regime.