Thursday, June 17, 2004

Joëlle Aubron

Joëlle Aubron, the day she entered prison and
yesterday, the day she left.

A member of the banned French terrorist organization Action Directe, Joëlle Aubron, 44, was released from prison on health grounds yesterday. She is suffering from cancer. "The liberation of my comrades is a battle still being waged," she said. (According to the law, those suffering terminal illnesses can be released to die at home. The law that allows this is named for Dr. Bernard Kouchner, one of the most popular politicians in France who angered more than a few with his support of the US intervention in Iraq.)

Aubron's group, Action Directe, was France's version of the Red Army Faction. Formed in 1979 by Jean-Marc Rouillan, it sought to overthrow the French government, which it viewed as undemocratic, in favor of a Marxist/Leninist regime. A year later, 22 of its members including Rouillan and his girlfriend Nathalie Ménigon, were collared by police. In 1981, president Mitterrand included them on a list of presidential pardons. The group then became highly active but was officially banned in 1982, when it began to collaborate with ETA, the Spanish group GRAPO, the Italian group Prima Linea, Germany's RAF and the Italian COLP.

From 1982 to 1985, AD carried out numerous bombings and attacks in Paris. On February 21, 1987, the groups leaders were arrested, Aubron among them. Aubron was convicted in 1989 and in 1994 and sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole for 18 years. Her crimes included the murder of Georges Besse, president of Renault, and of armed forces Inspector General, gen. René Audran.

An asside: In 1982, gen Audran was France's envoy to Baghdad. Back in december, I blogged general Audran's role in France's loan of 5 Super-Etendard fighter planes to Saddam (an entirely unprecedented maneuver) to help the latter in his war with Iran. France's Defense minister at the time, Charles Hernu, one of François Mitterrand's closest advisors, helped arrange the deal but was exposed in 1996 as a KGB agent.

Aubron will spend her days under strict police surveillance. On exiting prison, Aubron fell into the arms of German, Belgian and French supporters who sang "l'Internationale" (a hymn of far left militancy), their fists raised in the air under eight red flags, some from the Confédération nationale du travail (CNT, an anarchist union), which formed an honor guard.

Others who have benefited from the Kouchner law include Maurice Papon and former Elf president Loïk Le Floch-Prigent, convicted of embezzlement.