who really was Jacques Vergès, the devil’s advocate?

Because the man remains elusive. Jean-Charles Chapuzet met him for an interview, a few months before his death, which occurred on August 15, 2013, interview published in “Sud Ouest Dimanche”. The meeting left a lasting impression on him. “He was 88 but still gave off something intense in the photos. He was still his character…” Several years went by, during which the journalist became a screenwriter, letting his project mature. That of restoring a multiple Vergès, its many facets remaining poorly documented, often even ignored. “Over time, he is often reduced to the role of lawyer for Klaus Barbie, the former SS officer. He did it as a rock star. But he also defended unknown people. It was he who publicized the Raddad affair. »

Glenat

Shadow areas

“Vergès” opens with a burglary, a silhouette that invites itself into the famous private mansion on rue de Vintimille, in Paris, where the lawyer lived until the end. Faced with the intruder, the lawyer reveals himself. But what does he want to deliver of himself? The man or the legend? Chapuzet and Martinez explore all the lives of Jacques Vergès. The half-breed orphan of a mother very early on, who will suffer throughout his childhood from having been rejected, because of his difference. The young adult entered the resistance at age 17. The committed student adhering to the communist discourse. The lawyer going to Algiers to defend the members of the FLN. The old man despising money, who will die in debt…

His journey contains gaping gray areas. Like the years 1970-1978, which saw him go completely under the radar, disappearance sounding the end of the couple he had ended up forming with the Algerian activist Djamila Bouhired, from whom he had obtained a pardon. What has he been doing all this time? ” No one knows. Beirut? Cambodia ? Berlin? He was accused of having been Pol Pot’s adviser… He took his secret to the grave. This adds to the aura of the character. »

Zola, Che and D’Annunzio

The image that the author retains from his meeting? “I asked him if he felt more Émile Zola, Che Guevarra or Gabriele D’Annunzio? He replied with this wonderful sentence: ”Zola I take him very seriously, Che introduced me to the cigar, but the life of D’Annunzio tempts me much more”…”

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