120 years after trial, Alfred Dreyfus may be promoted to general

Around 120 years after Jewish French artillery officer Alfred Dreyfus was put on trial and stripped of his rank because of anti-Semitic rumors in what became known as the Dreyfus affair, justice might finally be done.

According to the French newspaper L'Opinion, French Defense Minister Florence Parly hinted in a speech she made last week marking the deportation of French Jews during World War II that Dreyfus might be promoted posthumously.

Dreyfus held the rank of captain when he was put on trial for allegedly spying for the German army. He was first tried in 1894 and convicted of treason. He was sentenced to life in prison and exiled. He was stripped of his rank in a humiliating ceremony.

After a public campaign on his behalf, which included writer Emile Zola's famous "J'Accuse!" open letter, Dreyfus was given a retrial in 1899. Again, he was found guilty of treason and sentenced to 10 years in prison, which was eventually commuted.

In 1906, a French appeals court ruled that Dreyfus was innocent. He returned to the army at the rank of major, but a year later he was forced to resign. He volunteered to serve as a lieutenant colonel in World War I.

Dreyfus died in 1935.

Parly called Dreyfus a "brilliant officer who chose to devote his life to his country."

The French minister said that although Dreyfus was readmitted into the military and promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel, it was poor compensation for the four years he had spent in prison and the 12 years he was kept out of the military.

Parly noted that she saw Dreyfus as a role model for children who was being wronged.

"The truth demands courage. 120 years later, the time has come for the army to give Alfred Dreyfus back the honor and years that were taken from him, and I will personally see that it is done. There are scars that cannot be healed," she said.