PARIS: The master spy has aged. Balding, unsteady on his feet, Maurice Dufresse, alias Pierre Siramy, slowly takes the stand in the Paris court.
He’s here to defend himself against accusations of defamation by a former mercenary, Richard Rouget, fingered by Dufresse in his memoirs for the assassination in 1988 of the ANC representative in Paris, Dulcie September. Though there has been much speculation about those responsible – apartheid police, French mercenaries, ANC agents involved in a settling of accounts – no one has ever been charged.
In his memoirs, Twenty-five Years in the Secret Service, published in March 2010, Dufresse, a former deputy head of the French secret service, the Direction generale de la surveillance du territoire (DGSE), claims to have new information about the murder.
The book has sparked other lawsuits but, today, it’s chapter six which interests the judge of the Paris court: “Dulcie September, an unpunished crime in the centre of Paris”.
In this chapter the secret agent tells of a meeting with his informant in Belgium, Claude Moniquet, a journalist who works for the DGSE in his spare time, specialising in right-wing politics.
In April 1988, a few days after the assassination of the ANC representative in Paris, Moniquet and Dufresse met in Brussels. According to Dufresse, Moniquet had information to offer: “I have met two guys involved in the murder of Dulcie September,” he said, one of them “a French-South African mercenary”, Richard Rouget, alias Sanders.
After a few drinks in the “Le Washington” bar, Rouget had apparently “boasted” of having been involved in the assassination.
“First-hand account. It’s solid” remembers Dufresse in his memoirs. He immediately contacted his superiors, including Robert Pandraud, deputy minister of the interior. And then? Nothing. According to Dufresse, “the matter was squashed high up”.
When the book was published, Rouget, through his lawyer Alexandre Varaut, sued for defamation. “These accusations of murder are extremely serious,” the lawyer tells the Paris court.
The former soldier is not in court himself, but his lawyer disputes everything in the book.
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