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Maurice Papon, the former Cabinet minister accused of signing orders that sent hundreds of Jews to their deaths during World War II, was in intensive care today after suffering a heart attack.

An official at the Haut Leveque hospital in Pessac, outside Bordeaux, said the 87-year-old Papon was rushed to the hospital late Thursday. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, declined to give details on Papon's condition.

France Info radio said Papon had suffered a "brutal" heart attack, but his lawyer, Jean-Marc Varaut, told LCI television that his client could be back in court today.

Papon, who underwent triple bypass surgery last year, had complained of chest pains Thursday, the second day of his trial. A judicial source said he suffered the heart attack at the Gradignan prison Thursday night but had no other details.

Papon told the court Wednesday that he did not have the physical or mental stamina to remain jailed during the trial, which is expected to last three months, and requested that he be allowed to stay in a private home. He entered police custody Tuesday.

Court-appointed doctors who examined Papon early Thursday recommended that he be held in a hospital cardiology unit. The court was to rule on that suggestion later today.

Papon, a former police supervisor in the Gironde region around Bordeaux, is charged with ordering the deportation of 1,690 Jews, including 223 children, from this southwestern city to Nazi death camps.

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