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“It was an open and shut case,” says Richard Rouget, the former Comores mercenary who has won a defamation suit against the author of a book who accused him of the murder of the ANC’s Paris representative, Dulcie September.
“Defamation was obvious,” Rouget told the Cape Times from Mogadishu where he is working with the African Union Mission in Somalia.
The author of the book, former deputy chief of the French secret service Maurice Dufresse, writing as Pierre Siramy, had claimed that his source in Belgium, journalist Claude Moniquet, had met Rouget in a bar and Rouget had boasted about the 1988 assassination. But a Paris court found in favour of Rouget, who had sued for defamation.
“The defence’s five witnesses, including his reported source, turned against Siramy, and I had the best libel lawyer in Paris, who is also a long time friend from law school,” said Rouget.
No one has ever been charged with the assassination of September, who was gunned down in her Paris flat. Speculation about her death has included rumours about an internal ANC settlement of accounts, apartheid police action, and French complicity in the killing.
Rouget told the Cape Times he did not know September. Asked why he thought he had been blamed in the book, he said: “I am sure the author has his reasons, however delusional they may be; his accusations against me were rejected by the police at the time, which they told me directly, and I was never presented to a judge.”
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission investigated the September killing and came to the conclusion that her assassination was part of a South African operation to eliminate senior ANC figures.
In an interview with the TRC, Eugene de Kock of the Civil Co-operation Bureau said the CCB had undertaken the assassination and two members of the former Comoran Presidential Guard had been hired.
Rouget, who was a member of the Comoran Presidential Guard in the mid-1980s, was said to have been in SA at the time of the killing but the French magistrate investigating the assassination believed he might have recruited the killers.
“I do question why I was not contacted by the TRC, and why the investigation never went further than me, even without any prosecution by a French judge or interview by the TRC,” said Rouget.
“It would make anyone wonder what was going on behind the scenes.”
Asked if he had links with the CCB, he said: “No, not at all.”
Rouget said he considered South Africa his home.
Since 2007 he has been working in Mogadishu offering support to Amisom.
He says he is part of a team assisting Amisom’s Ugandan and Burundian forces with training and mentoring.
“We help to train their soldiers in various technical skills, mentor the planning process for the actions they take and advise on the logistics of operating to make sure they have everything they need, especially medical support, in the right place,” he said.
“We have been here since 2007 when Amisom arrived and as they continue to make excellent progress, I remain committed to assisting them for the foreseeable future.”