France’s former spy chief refuses to testify in Angolagate trial

Yves Bertrand

Yves Bertrand

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
France’s former spy chief has refused to testify as a defense witness in the infamous Angolagate trial, which probes illegal arms shipments from France to Angola in the early 1990s. The arms scandal, which was uncovered in 1995 by the French authorities, involved unauthorized shipments of over $600 million-worth of weapons to the MPLA-dominated government in post-civil-war Angola. Forty-two people are implicated in the case, some of whom are facing charges of money laundering, tax evasion, as well as bribery of French government officials responsible for overseeing commercial shipments to Angola. The 42 include Jean-Christophe Mitterrand, son of the late French President Francois Mitterrand, former Interior Minister Charles Pasqua, and two businessmen, Pierre Falcone, from France, and Israeli-Russian tycoon Arkady Gaydamak. Interestingly, Falcone and Gaydamak stated during the trial that they planned the illegal weapons shipments to Angola with the secret approval of the French government, which was hoping to gain access to Angolan oil in return for the weapons handout. They further alleged that Yves Bertrand, Director from 1992 to 2004 of Direction Centrale des Renseignements Généraux (RD), France’s Central Directorate of General Intelligence, was personally involved in preparing the shipments’ logistics. The judges in charge of the trial ordered that several personal documents in Mr. Bertrand’s possession be seized, and instructed him to appear as a witness in the case. But the former spy chief has refused to attend and instructed his lawyer to issue a formal denial of Falcone and Gaydamak’s allegations. The trial, which began in October, is expected to continue for several weeks.

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

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