Former resistance fighter Lise London, the widow of Arthur London who wrote "The Confession" about his 1951 Stalinist show trial, died on Saturday, aged 96, the French Communist party said Sunday.

"/> Former resistance fighter Lise London, the widow of Arthur London who wrote "The Confession" about his 1951 Stalinist show trial, died on Saturday, aged 96, the French Communist party said Sunday.

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96-year-old WWII resistance fighter dies

Former resistance fighter Lise London, the widow of Arthur London who wrote "The Confession" about his 1951 Stalinist show trial, died on Saturday, aged 96, the French Communist party said Sunday.

Born Elisabeth Ricol in France in 1916 to Spanish parents, she joined the Communist Party young and moved to Moscow where she met Czech communist Arthur London.

She married London before joining the International Brigades in civil war-era Spain and then the World War II resistance in France. She was arrested and sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp in 1942.

After the war, she lived in Czechoslovakia with her husband who became deputy foreign minister in a Soviet-backed government. However, he fell from grace and was arrested in 1951 and had to face a Stalinist show trial.

Arthur London was freed in 1956 and sought refuge in France, where he wrote “The Confession” about his arrest, interrogation and torture in Czechoslovakia.

The book was published in 1968, the year of the Prague Spring uprising against Soviet authority, and made into a renowned film of the same name by director Constantin Costa-Gavras in 1970.

Arthur London died in 1986. His widow remained loyal to the French Communist Party, while criticising “Stalin’s leading astray of Socialism.”

French Communist Party secretary general Pierre Laurent on Sunday paid homage to her “Communist engagement” and “her resistance to Stalinist madness”.

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French forces tortured and murdered Algerian freedom fighter in 1950s, admits Macron

French forces "tortured and murdered" Algerian freedom fighter Ali Boumendjel during his country's war for independence, President Emmanuel Macron admitted on Tuesday, officially reappraising a death that was covered up as a suicide.

French forces tortured and murdered Algerian freedom fighter in 1950s, admits Macron
Malika, the widow of Ali Boumendjel, pictured in 2001. Photo: Stefan Fferberg/AFP

Macron made the admission “in the name of France” during a meeting with Boumendjel’s grandchildren.

The move comes after Macron in January refused to issue an official apology for abuses committed during the occupation of Algeria – instead, he agreed to form a “truth commission” as recommended by a report commissioned by the government to shed light on France’s colonial past.

Atrocities committed by both sides during the 1954-1962 Algerian war of independence continue to strain relations between the countries.

Boumendjel, a nationalist and lawyer, was arrested during the battle of Algiers by the French army, “placed incommunicado, tortured, and then killed on 23 March 1957,” the Elysee Palace said in a statement.

“Ali Boumendjel did not commit suicide. He was tortured and then killed,” Macron told Boumendjel’s grandchildren, according to the statement.

It is not the first time the real cause of death was acknowledged.

In 2000, the former head of French intelligence in Algiers Paul Aussaresses confessed to ordering Boumendjel’s death and disguising the murder as a suicide, according to the statement.

It added that Macron on Tuesday had also reiterated his desire to give families the opportunity to find out the truth about this chapter of history.

Last month, Boumendjel’s niece Fadela Boumendjel-Chitour denounced what she called the “devastating” lie the French state had told about her uncle.

French historian Benjamin Stora, who wrote the government-commissioned report, has said there is a “never-ending memory war” between the two countries.

The report has been described by the Algerian government as “not objective” and falling “below expectations.”

During his 2017 election campaign, Macron – the first president born after the colonial period – declared that the occupation of Algeria was a “crime against humanity”.

He has since said there was “no question of showing repentance” or of “presenting an apology” for abuses committed in the North African country.

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