Nazi defender will visit SOAS

By Jessica Elgot, January 5, 2012
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Vergès: horror clients

Vergès: horror clients

A lawyer who has defended Nazi war criminals, Holocaust deniers and Palestinian terrorists, will speak at London University's School of Oriental and African Studies, shortly after Holocaust Memorial Day.

Finchley and Golders Green MP Mike Freer, vice-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism, hopes to raise the visit of French-Vietnamese lawyer Jacques Vergès with Home Secretary Theresa May.

Anti-fascist campaigners from Searchlight are urging the Home Office to ban him. Mr Vergès, 86, counts Nazi Klaus Barbie, Holocaust denier Roger Gaudy and pro-Palestinian terrorist Carlos the Jackal as former clients.

In 2008 he said he would happily have defended Adolf Hitler.

Mr Vergès is due to speak at SOAS on February 3.

Klaus Barbie's defence was financed by Francois Genoud, a Swiss Nazi who was the executor of Joseph Goebbels's will.

Genoud also paid for the defence of Carlos the Jackal.

Searchlight's Gerry Gable said the magazine had been investigating Mr Vergès since October. "His role goes well beyond the legal representation needed to ensure his criminal clients get a fair trial.

"It is possible for the Home Office to ban EU citizens if their presence is not conducive to the public good. We think that applies to Jacques Vergès."

At the planned SOAS debate, Mr Vergès will speak alongside Finnish international lawyer Martti Koskenniemi, in a panel discussion chaired by French-Algerian journalist Nabila Ramdani.

PhD student Robert Murtfeld, who is organising the event, said: "Jacques Vergès has been invited as a main speaker with Professor Koskenniemi, a Finnish diplomat for more than 20 years. In his 2002 paper on 'Between Impunity and Show Trials', Professor Koskenniemi analyses critically Vergès' involvement in the Barbie case."

Denis MacShane MP, chair of the European Institute for Study of Antisemitism, said: "Jacques Verges is an ageing sensationalist who has links with some of the most repellent ideas and individuals on the far right, who have sought and seek to justify, excuse or avoid retribution for evil acts.

"It is sad that SOAS should be lending its name to this stunt merchant, who no longer gets the publicity he craves in France but has found some useless idiots at London University - again! - to promote his noxious narratives".

Last updated: 4:18pm, January 5 2012