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Mitterrand Had Authorised Rainbow Warrior Attack

French pres ordered Greenpeace ship sabotaged

The sabotage of the Greenpeace flagship the Rainbow Warrior 20 years ago was carried out with the "personal authorization" of France's late president Francois Mitterrand, documents showed on Saturday. Le Monde newspaper published extracts in its Saturday edition of a 1986 account written by Pierre Lacoste, the former head of France's DGSE foreign intelligence service, giving the clearest demonstration yet of Mitterrand's direct involvement in the sinking of the campaign vessel.

Portuguese photographer Fernando Pereira died in the attack on the ship that was leading Greenpeace's campaign against French nuclear tests on the Mururoa Atoll in the Pacific.

"I asked the president if he gave me permission to put into action the neutralisation plan that I had studied on the request of Monsieur (Charles) Hernu," Lacoste wrote. Hernu was defense minister at the time.

"He gave me his agreement while stressing the importance he placed on the nuclear tests. I didn't go into greater detail on the plan as the authorization was explicit enough," he said.

Lacoste added that he "would not have launched such an operation without the personal authorization of the President of the Republic."

The scandal, which triggered Hernu's resignation and Lacoste's departure from the DGSE, shocked the world and tarnished France's image in the South Pacific.

Two French agents were later tried and imprisoned for blowing up the ship in Auckland harbor, New Zealand on July 10, 1985. They began their sentences in New Zealand but were later transferred to a military base in French Polynesia and were released within three years of the attack.

Lacoste's account, dated April 8, 1986, is contained in a 23-page handwritten document that has only now come to light.

Ordered by then defense minister Andre Giraud shortly after France's current President Jacques Chirac became prime minister in 1986, the document was kept quiet so as not to destabilize the power sharing agreement, or 'cohabitation', between the Socialist Mitterrand and Chirac's right-wing government.

The account is supported by documents in the secret service's archives and others likely to be in Lacoste's own possession, Le Monde said.

Posted by zorkmidden on Jul 09, 2005 9:40 am

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