Received Friday, 13 October 2006 11:08:00 GMT

PARIS, Oct 13, 2006 (AFP) – The families of Jews and others deported to

Nazi camps in French trains have hit France’s state rail company SNCF

with 1,200 compensation claims, an MP involved in the case said Friday.

The cases were lodged with the administrative court, which hears matters

related to state branches, the MP, Greens Party member Alain Lipietz,

told AFP.

A collective grouping some 200 families whose relatives were deported by

France’s pro-Nazi Vichy regime during World War II using SNCF wagons

announced in August they would be launching the lawsuit seeking

unspecified millions of euros (dollars) in damages.

At the time, the SNCF said it expected more than 200 claims, but added

it would oppose them because it believed it could not be held

responsible for what the rail company was coerced to do under German

occupation.

The legal precedent underpinning the claims came from a legal victory

Lipietz won in June, in which the French state and the SNCF were fined

62,000 euros (78,000 dollars) for their role in the wartime deportation

of his Jewish father and uncle. Both deported men survived the war. The

SNCF is appealing that verdict.

The collective includes citizens from Belgium, Canada, France, Israel

and the United States.

Around 75,000 Jews were deported to Nazi camps from France in World War

II and only about 2,500 returned.

Thousands of other people classed as “undesirables” by the German regime

were also deported, including homosexuals, Gypsies and political

prisoners.