French admit Dreyfus frame-up

The Associated Press

PARIS Framed by the military, reviled by an anti-Semitic press, army Capt. Alfred Dreyfus went to prison for spying a century ago and became a legend a nagging symbol of injustice that never quite went away.

Now, 101 years later, the French military has made an official about-face and admitted that it created the ''Dreyfus Affair'' by framing an innocent man.

Gen. Jean-Louis Mourrut, head of the army's history department, called the Dreyfus Affair a ''military conspiracy which led to the conviction and deportation of an innocent man, and partially on the basis of a falsified document.''

His comments last week marked a significant change in the military's official treatment of the famed affair.

Speaking last week to a Jewish group at the Paris City Hall, or Hotel de Ville, Mourrut said the case revealed much ''about the period, French society and the army.''

French Jewish groups were delighted with the statements by Mourrut.

Dreyfus was convicted in 1894 of passing secrets to France's German enemies and imprisoned on Devil's Island, off the coast of South America. The only evidence was a torn sheet of paper plucked from a wastebasket in the German Embassy by a cleaning lady.

The real traitor turned out to be Maj. Ferdinand Esterhazy, who was acquitted by the military.

In 1906, the military refused to admit the frame-up and found Dreyfus guilty with ''extenuating circumstances.'' A few days later, French president, Emile Loubet, issued a pardon.

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