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COMOROS: Mercenary Faces Trial

A French mercenary Bob Denard, is standing trial in Paris, charged with the Murder of President Ahmed Abdallah of the Comoros Island during a coup which he engineered in 1989. "Colonel" Denard is 70 and a well-known soldier of fortune who has operated all over Africa for more than 30 years. The trial takes place just days after the latest in a long series of coups and coup attempts in the Comoros, many of them involving Denard. Denard, who faces life in prison if found guilty, is claiming that although he was a witness to the killing of the presiden Abdallah, he was did not pull the trigger and the whole incident was a mistake. He says that error occured whe the president's bodyguard burst into the room and fired ant him (Denard). Denard claims that he ducked and the shot intended for him hit the president. The guard was then killed by another mercenary Jean-Paul "Siam" Guerrier who has not been traced. In an interview with the French magazine Le figaro, Denard claimed, "I have a clear conscience and have confidence in the justice of my country,"

The prosecution alleges that Denard killed Abdallah to stop the president getting rid of him, but his defence lawyer Alexandre Varaut said Denard's says the case against his client is very weak. He says tht Denard was too experienced to have bitched a coup the way he is alleged to have done.

Abdallah became president of the Comoros after its independence in 1975 but was deposed a month later by his prime minister, Ali Soilih. Ali Soilih had employed Denard to carry out the coup. In 1978. Denard again carried out a coup which removed his erstwhile employer, Ali Soloh an reinstated Abdallah. A a reward, he was made the head of Abdallah;s presidential guard. Denard againatttemoted to remove his boss in a coup in 1989 which resulted in Abdallah' death. He fled to South Africa, regrouped and again led a coup against Abdallah's successor, Mohamed Said Djohar, in 1995. He argues that he carried out the coups with the connivance of France for whom he worked as a secret agent.
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