Gendarme accused of leaking K-For secrets

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The Independent Online

A bizarre series of events - including a Parisian street brawl between two kinds of police officer - ended yesterday with the accusation that a senior gendarmerie officer had leaked internal documents from the French peace-keeping force in Kosovo.

A bizarre series of events - including a Parisian street brawl between two kinds of police officer - ended yesterday with the accusation that a senior gendarmerie officer had leaked internal documents from the French peace-keeping force in Kosovo.

The officer, Colonel Jean-Michel Méchain, who appeared before an investigating magistrate yesterday, was involved in a fight in the 20th arrondissement of Paris last Tuesday in which he was kneed in the genitals. It emerged that his alleged assailants were seven men and one woman belonging to the military security agency, the DPSD. The DPSD agents were arrested by ordinary police.

Col Méchain had been recalled from a senior post with the French contingent of K-For, the Kosovo peace-keeping force, the week before last. He now faces a formal investigation into accusations that he leaked military memorandums which criticised his country's civilian administrator in Kosovo, Bernard Kouchner.

The memos, reprinted in the national press, accused Mr Kouchner of being virulently anti-Serb and obsessed with military security. The French Defence Minister, Alain Richard, has promised a full investigation of the scandal, including the disputed events last Tuesday. Col Méchain says he was walking down the street in civilian clothes when he realised he was being followed by a group of eight people. He approached them to complain and was kneed in the genitals.

The local police crime squad arrested the "assailants" before discovering they were DPSD agents. The gendarmerie is part of the army.

Col Méchain asked to be released from his military vow of press silence and was, himself, arrested on Friday night.

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