Stasi files say Verges worked with Carlos

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The Independent Online
JACQUES VERGES, the lawyer representing Carlos, the international terrorist who was spirited to France this week, was accused yesterday of having worked for him in the past. Le Monde reported that archives of the Stasi, the former East German security service, apparently established a link between the two men.

Mr Verges, who has a reputation for defending unpopular causes - including that of Klaus Barbie, the Nazi police chief in Lyons during the Second World War - denied the substance of the documents, saying it was 'a disinformation operation by the Stasi'.

Carlos, 44, whose real name is Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, arrived in France on Monday from Sudan where he had been living under a false identity. Mourad Oussedik, another lawyer representing him, said the Venezuelan had been drugged by the Sudanese security officers who were meant to be guarding him, and delivered to French agents for money without any normal extradition procedures. Mr Oussedik said yesterday that he would file a counter-charge against the French security services for abduction.

Mr Verges, 69, is France's most controversial lawyer. Born of a French father and a Vietnamese mother, he spent his childhood and adolescence on the French Indian Ocean island of La Reunion. He made his way to Britain during the Second World War to join the Free French Forces and was part of the invasion force which landed in Provence 50 years ago.

After the war he espoused the Communist cause and worked for a while in Prague in a Soviet-led international student union movement under Victor Shelepin, who was to become the head of the KGB security police in the time of Nikita Khrushchev. During the Algerian war between 1954 and 1962, Mr Verges incurred official unpopularity by representing members of the Algerian National Liberation Front. One of his clients, shown to have been tortured in French custody, later married him.

In the 1970s, he disappeared for a number of years - some accounts say he was out of sight for eight years. The lawyer has always refused to comment on the various versions of his alleged activities.

'As Henry de Montherlant said, 'what is secret remains nevertheless true' ', is a standard reply. One account had him working for Pol Pot after the Khmer Rouge takeover of Cambodia in 1975. In 1979, he returned to practise law as a member of the Paris bar.

Le Monde did not say precisely what role the Stasi documents attributed to Mr Verges in Carlos's activities. It said the documents were in the hands of Jean-Louis Bruguiere, the examining magistrate in charge of anti-terrorist affairs in France who charged Carlos on Tuesday for a 1982 bombing. The German BKA security police sent them to Mr Bruguiere last month, it said.

Mr Verges represented Magdalena Kopp, a West German urban guerrilla given a four-year jail sentence in France in 1982. After her release from prison in 1985, she married Carlos.

When pleading controversial cases, Mr Verges has always claimed he was working without payment. Non-French intelligence services, however, said that in the mid-1980s their checks had revealed payments for the Barbie trial from Francois Genoud, a Lausanne banker reputed to run the 'Nazi war chest'.

The sources said payment for Mr Verges' defence in 1987 of Georges Ibrahim Abdullah, who was on trial for attacks on Israeli and US diplomats in France, had come from the same source.

Mr Verges said Carlos would defend his 'combat' - he is believed to be responsible for 83 deaths altogether - when his case comes to court. Carlos was 'not a small-time criminal' and he had 'acted out of idealism'.

Mr Verges' standard defence technique so far has been to try to turn the tables on France, insisting that, deep down, it was the fault of France if such acts occurred on French soil. It has never been known to work.

(Photograph omitted)