3 Nov 2011

New book reveals Mitterrand role in 1988 New Caledonia Ouvea crisis

1:09 pm on 3 November 2011

A new book claims that during New Caledonia's 1988 hostage crisis the French President Francois Mitterrand ordered a police intervention when he could have stopped it in favour of negotiations.

The claim is made in a new book by Philippe Legorjus, who was in charge of the police force when it attacked and killed 19 Kanaks on Ouvea to free 20 officers held hostage.

The author says both Mr Mitterrand and the prime minister, Jacques Chirac, could have avoided the massacre but didn't by rejecting the option of using a mediator.

The book wonders why Mr Mitterrand approved for his special advisor to seek a way of negotiating while giving the green light to the government for the security forces to launch their attack.

It says as the French presidential run-off election loomed, Mr Mitterrand didn't want to take the political risk of being seen as lax.

The book launch in Paris is timed to coincide with the release of a French feature film by Mathieu Kassovitz surrounding the Ouvea incidents.