Verges 'offered to be go-between with the Jackal'

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The Independent Online
JACQUES VERGES, the controversial French lawyer representing the terrorist Carlos, made direct approaches to the French government in 1982, offering to mediate between France and the terrorist, according to reports published yesterday. Le Monde published information - confirmed by the officials involved - that Mr Verges had approached the government in 1982 and had offered to act as a liaison.

But Mr Verges said he planned to sue Le Monde. 'I've read the articles in Le Monde today,' he said in a television interview yesterday. 'I intend to bring defamation charges against Le Monde, because enough is enough.'

According to Stasi documents seen by Le Monde's Berlin correspondent, Mr Verges was given dollars 5,000 in 1982 by a German associate of Carlos, apparently part of his fee for defending Magdalena Kopp, a German who was later to marry Carlos, and Bruno Breguet, a Swiss. They were tried in Paris that year for possession of explosives. A series of bomb attacks in France were aimed at obtaining their release.

Mr Verges, who specialises in defending unpopular causes - he has handled a number of terrorist cases and was counsel in 1987 for Klaus Barbie, the Nazi police chief in Lyons - said on Wednesday that the Stasi documents amounted to 'disinformation'. Later he said that it was a question of 'vice (the Stasi) attacking virtue', meaning himself.

The German authorities have sent the documents to Jean-Louis Bruguiere, the examining magistrate handling the Carlos case. Carlos, responsible for the 1975 kidnapping of oil ministers from an Opec conference in Vienna, was charged on Tuesday for a Paris bombing on the day the Kopp- Breguet trial opened in 1982.

The Justice Ministry yesterday gave the go-ahead for charges to be preferred for three other bomb attacks in 1982 and 1983, causing a total of 10 deaths. One attack ripped open a carriage on a Paris- Toulouse express. Another hit a high-speed train, while the third exploded in the main railway station in Marseilles.

In addition Carlos, 44, was sentenced in absentia to life imprisonment by a French court two years ago, for killing two officers of the DST counter-espionage service in Paris in 1975.

The 1982 bombings occurred after a threat was received in the French embassy in The Hague addressed to Gaston Defferre, then the Socialist interior minister.

Roland Kessous, a member of Defferre's staff, yesterday confirmed the substance of Le Monde's report about Mr Verges' role. Mr Verges had 'raised the possibility of direct contacts with Carlos, explaining that he could pass him a message', Mr Kessous said. Le Monde said the Stasi documents, containing copious notes by Johannes Weinrich, described as a 'lieutenant' of Carlos, did not indicate that Mr Verges had actually met the Venezuelan terrorist.

Louis Joinet, a member of the staff of Pierre Mauroy, who was prime minister in 1982, said Mr Verges had told Mauroy's office that France did not take threats by Carlos seriously enough. Mr Joinet said Mr Verges told him he communicated with Carlos through coded small advertisements in the daily Le Matin de Paris. He said he was not convinced that Mr Verges was serious and broke contact with him. The Stasi archives suggested Mr Joinet had approached Jean- Louis Debre, the examining magistrate for the Kopp-Breguet affair, to ask him to be lenient with the pair. Mr Debre is now the assistant secretary-general and main spokesman of the Gaullist RPR party.