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DATE=5/4/99 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT NUMBER=2-248953 TITLE= FRANCE MERCENARY (L/S VER) BYLINE=JULIAN NUNDY DATELINE=PARIS CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: BOB DENARD, A FRENCH MERCENARY CREDITED WITH INVOLVEMENT IN 18 COUPS D'ETAT IN AFRICA, WENT ON TRIAL IN PARIS TUESDAY FOR THE MURDER OF A FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE COMORO ISLANDS. JULIAN NUNDY REPORTS FROM PARIS. TEXT: THE SELF-STYLED "COLONEL DENARD" IS A MAN CREDITED BY SOME WITH "PRIVATIZING" FRANCE'S INTERVENTIONIST AFRICA POLICY, ONE UNDER WHICH FRANCE WOULD SEND IN ITS TROOPS TO BACK UP FRIENDLY REGIMES IN ITS FORMER COLONIES. //OPT// AND HE DESCRIBES HIMSELF AS A "PIRATE OF THE REPUBLIC." COLONEL DENARD WAS ONE OF THE CHARACTERS FOR THE NOVEL "THE DOGS OF WAR" BY THE BRITISH NOVELIST FREDERICK FORSYTHE WHO CAME ACROSS HIM IN BIAFRA IN NIGERIA 30 YEAR AGO. HIS BIOGRAPHERS CLAIM DENARD HAS PLAYED A CENTRAL ROLE IN 18 DIFFERENT COUPS D'ETAT THROUGHOUT AFRICA. //END OPT/// NOW, THE 70-YEAR-OLD BOB DENARD AND TWO OF HIS ACCOMPLICES ARE ON TRIAL FOR THE MURDER OF COMORAN PRESIDENT AHMED ABDALLAH IN 1989. //OPT// HE HAD ALREADY BEEN LIVING IN THE FORMER FRENCH-CONTROLLED INDIAN OCEAN ISLANDS FOR 11 YEARS AND WAS CREDITED WITH DEPOSING ABDALLAH ONCE BEFORE -- AND THEN BRINGING HIM BACK TO POWER. //END OPT// THE DEFENDANTS ARE ACCUSED OF SHOOTING THE PRESIDENT, WHEN "COLONEL" DENARD WAS THE HEAD OF THE PRESIDENTIAL GUARD. THEY DENY THIS, SAYING THE PRESIDENT WAS KILLED WHEN A BODYGUARD OPENED FIRE. THE BODYGUARD WAS ALSO KILLED IN THE INCIDENT. AS JURY MEMBERS WERE CHOSEN FOR THE TRIAL IN PARIS, "COLONEL" DENARD ASKED TO BE RELEASED FROM CUSTODY, SAYING HE IS NOT A DANGER TO FRENCH SOCIETY. //REST OPT// DURING HIS TWO-WEEK TRIAL, ONE CHARACTER WITNESS WILL BE A FORMER CONSERVATIVE FRENCH GOVERNMENT MINISTER WHO, THE DEFENDANTS' LAWYERS SAY, WILL TESTIFY THAT COLONEL DENARD WAS OFTEN USED BY FRANCE AS PART OF ITS NOW OFFICIALLY DEFUNCT AFRICA POLICY. (SIGNED) NEB/JWN/PCF 04-May-99 2:00 PM EDT (1800 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





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