Jacques Vergès

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Jacques Vergès, born 5 March 1925 in Ubon Ratchathani, Siam (now called Thailand), is a French lawyer who has earned fame continually since the 1950s, first as an anticolonialist communist figure and then for defending a long string of well-known clients from anticolonialist Algerian militant Djamila Bouhired (his future wife) in 1957-1962 to former Khmer Rouge head of state Khieu Samphan (2008). His clients have included both leftwing and rightwing terrorists, war criminals, and militants, including Holocaust denier Roger Garaudy, Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie (1987),[1] and international terrorist Ilich Ramírez Sánchez a.k.a. Carlos the Jackal (1994). In 2002, he offered to represent former Serbian President Slobodan Milošević, although Milošević declined any legal advice from any party. The media have sensationalized him with the sobriquet, "the Devil's advocate",[nb 1] and he himself has contributed to his "notorious" public persona by such acts as titling his autobiography The Brilliant Bastard[nb 2] and giving provocative replies in interviews. He claims that when asked if he would have defended Hitler, he replied, "...I'd even defend Bush! But only if he agrees to plead guilty."[2][3]

Contents

Biography

Born in Siam (now called Thailand) and brought up on the island of Réunion,[4] Jacques Vergès is the son of Raymond Vergès, a French diplomat, and a Vietnamese mother. In 1942, with his father's encouragement, he sailed to Liverpool to become part of the Free French Forces under Charles de Gaulle, and to participate in the anti-Nazi resistance.[5] After the war Jacques went to the University of Paris to study law (his brother Paul Vergès went on to become the leader of the Reunionese Communist Party and Member of the European Parliament).[6] In 1949 Jacques became president of the AEC (Association for Colonial Students), where he met and befriended Pol Pot.[7] In 1950 at the request of his Communist mentors he went to Prague to lead a youth organization for four years.[8]

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