WHO'S WHO: Jacques Verges

Views on BG | March 27, 2004, Saturday // 00:00| Views: | Comments: 0

Jacques Vergиs, born on March 5, 1925, is a controversy-seeking French lawyer.

Throughout his career as an attorney, Vergиs primarily took political cases, and his clients included both left and right wing terrorists.

He has defended the nazi criminal Klaus Barbie (1987), Ilich Ramirez Sanchez a.k.a. Carlos the Jackal (1994), the Kekal faction (1995), the Holocaust-denier Roger Gaurady (1996) and Slobodan Milosevic (2002).

Born in Thailand and brought up on the Reunion Island, he was the son of Raymond Vergиs, a French diplomat, and a Vietnamese woman.

He joined the Communist party on Reunion and in 1942 he became part of the Free French Forces under Charles de Gaulle.

After the war, while his brother Paul was imprisoned for murdering a political rival to their father, Jacques went to the Sorbonne to study law.

In 1949 he became president of the AEC (Association for Colonial Students), where he met and befriended Pol Pot. In 1950 at the request of his Communist mentors he went to Prague to lead a youth organization for four years.

Returning to France he became an attorney and sought controversial cases.

During the struggle in Algiers he defended many accused of terrorism, with the goal of public attention, not legal victory. He also left the French Communist Party following their political move towards the Fourth Republic.

Vergиs became a nationally known figure following his defense of Djamila Bouhired, on terrorism charges. She was condemned to death but freed following public pressure and married Vergиs.

Vergиs, himself was sentenced to sixty days in 1960 and lost his license to officially practice law for "anti-state activities".

Just out of prison he used his publicity tactics to defend the Jeanson network. It was during a ferocious cross examinations that Paul Teitgen, commander of the Algerian police, publicly admitted to the use of torture.

Following Algiers, Vergиs moved onto Israel - he opposed Israel's existence as a base for neo-imperialism in the Middle East and when the wave of PFLP hijackings started in 1968 Vergиs often appeared in court to defend them.

Then from 1970-78 he disappeared from public view without explanation. He returned with the same anti-France and anti-Israel agenda as before, defending any terrorists with a political cause, almost all of whom were found guilty.

As well as attacking governments in 1999 Vergиs sued Amnesty International on behalf of the government of Togo.

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READ MORE about the court sagas of Jacques Verges at For the Record section

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