French spy found dead in Alps after being accused of plot to assassinate exiled Congolese politician

Investigators say death of former DGSE agent Daniel Forestier bears hallmarks of a contract killing

Tom Barnes
Thursday 28 March 2019 13:40
French spy found dead in Alps after being accused of plot to assassinate exiled Congolese politician

A French spy has been shot dead after being implicated in the attempted assassination of an exiled Congolese opposition figure.

The body of Daniel Forestier was discovered last week by police in a car park in the remote Alpine town of Ballaison, close to the French border with Switzerland.

The 57-year-old had been shot five times in the head and chest. Prosecutors said the calculated nature of the shooting meant it was being treated as a professional hit.

French media have widely reported Mr Forestier was a retired agent for the DGSE, France’s external intelligence agency, comparable to MI6.

Mr Forestier had been under investigation by authorities in connection with a plot to kill Ferdinand Mbahou, an exiled military general and high-profile opponent of the Congo-Brazzaville government.

The former agent was charged with “criminal conspiracy” and “possession of explosives” last year, following an attempt on Mr Mbahou’s life in 2015.

Speaking to Euronews, Mr Forestier’s lawyer, Cedric Huissoud, said his client had “firmly contested” the charges against him and accusations of his involvement in the plot were unfounded.

This connection has however led to speculation his apparent execution may be linked to the failed assassination attempt and detectives reportedly believe the killing may have been a revenge attack.

“It’s hard to believe that this murder bore no connection with his implication in the Mbahou affair,” an anonymous source close to the investigation told French news agency AFP.

However, another unnamed investigator told Le Parisien links to “parallel activities in Russia and Asia” were also being probed.

Mr Mbahou served as director of security to then-Congolese president Pascal Lissouba until 1997, when both were ousted by forces loyal to socialist leader Denis Sassou Nguesso.

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With Mr Sassou Nguesso still in power, the general has spent the past 20 years exiled in France and has become an outspoken political opponent of the regime.

He narrowly escaped a separate assassination attempt in 2015, when he was shot outside his home in northern Paris.

Mr Forestier is thought to have been living in the village of Lucinges, around seven-and-a-half miles south of where his body had been discovered.

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