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A Paris Criminal Tribunal ruling has pinned the government of Jacques Chirac with responsibility for a 1995 coup in Comoros, giving suspended sentences to over two dozen French mercenaries who seized power on Chirac's secret orders. The judge refused to sentence the defendants to jail time, saying that the French government had obviously allowed the men to act as their agents in their attempt at an overthrow:
COVERT attempts by President Chirac to exert influence over Africa were exposed by a French court yesterday, when it denounced his secret services for conniving with a band of mercenaries in a coup in the tiny Comoros Islands.
In a damning ruling, the Paris Criminal Tribunal said that the French authorities had given at least tacit approval to the 1995 coup led by Bob Denard, the best-known French soldier of fortune. ...
The court refused a prosecution demand to jail the plotters and instead handed out suspended sentences after hearing them claim that they were acting with the backing of M Chirac’s Government.
Although France has long been accused of secret operations to maintain its influence in Africa, the ruling constituted an unprecedented, public condemnation of these practices. It was particularly embarrassing for M Chirac, who has sought to portray himself as one of the Third World’s greatest advocates in the West.
Chirac used just that pose to protect Saddam Hussein from an American invasion in the early months of 2003, attempting to shield France from the revelations of the Oil-For-Food scam as well as protect its corporate interests in Iraq. The French made quite a show about their disavowal of violence in the service of regime change, skipping over the sixteen unenforced UN Security Council resolutions that Saddam defiantly ignored. Now we find out that the French have no problems with military intervention for regime change, and only differ in the level of honesty involved.
France and Chirac owe an explanation of this episode. They won't give one, but they owe it nonetheless.Sphere It View blog reactions
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