Ex-envoy comes to aid of Gonzalez squad claims `absurd'

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The Independent Online
Felipe Gonzalez received strong support yesterday from the former French ambassador to Madrid, who said it was inconceivable that the Spanish Prime Minister had had anything to do with the activities of anti- terrorist GAL death-squads.

Pierre Guidoni, France's ambassador in Spain from 1982

to 1985 - when GAL hitmen assassinated more than 20 suspected Eta terrorists on French soil - said it was "psychologically implausible, politically absurd and technically impossible" for the Spanish government to have known anything about GAL.

But it was possible, Mr Guidoni conceded in yesterday's El Pais newspaper, that Spanish anti-terrorist police took matters into their own hands.

Mr Guidoni said he was instructed by President Francois Mitterrand to achieve a rapprochement with the newly elected Socialist government to negotiate Spanish entry into the European Community. Mr Guidoni says he was in intense and daily contact with thePrime Minister.

France and Spain had long been at odds over Basque terrorism. France objected to cross-border raids from freelance hit-squads of Francoist origin such as the Basque Spanish Battalion and the Triple A. Spain complained that France provided a safe haven for Eta suspects.

Madrid opted for dialogue with Paris as the way forward, Mr Guidoni recalled yesterday,culminating in a visit by President Mitterrand to Madrid in June 1984 that paved the way for Spain's EC entry in June 1985.

It would have been "absurd, demented" for the government in Madrid to have risked destroying the close relationship it was building, Mr Guidoni said.

n Suspected Eta terrorists shot dead Gregorio Ordonez, an opposition Popular Party leader, in San Sebastian yesterday, the first such attack on a political figure for more than two years.