Ben Barka's son slams suspension of French arrest warrants

4th October 2009, Comments 0 comments

The son of Moroccan opposition leader Mehdi Ben Barka abducted in 1965 on Saturday slammed a French decision to suspend international arrest warrants for four Moroccans implicated in his disappearance.

Paris - The son of Moroccan opposition leader Mehdi Ben Barka abducted in 1965 on Saturday slammed a French decision to suspend international arrest warrants for four Moroccans implicated in his disappearance.

Bechir Ben Barka cited "reasons of the state" behind the request Friday by French prosecutors for Interpol to no longer publish the warrants in spite of the green light given by the French justice ministry.

"This is a masquerade (...) a flagrant and cynical show of what is believed to be the good of the state," he told AFP.

The prosecution said Friday Interpol had asked for more information in the case.

Ben Barka, a charismatic foe of Morocco's late king Hassan II, has not been seen since he was snatched outside a popular Left Bank cafe in Paris 44 years ago and is widely believed to be dead.

The affair has remained shrouded in secrecy despite appeals launched in both countries.

The warrants for the arrest of General Hosni Benslimane, the head of the royal gendarmerie and a close aide to the current king, Mohammed VI; General Abdelhak Kadiri, a former head of military intelligence DGED; Miloud Tounsi, alias Larbi Chtouki, a suspected member of the Moroccan commando that kidnapped Ben Barka; and secret service agent Abdlehak Achaachi were signed in October 2007.

However they were not sent out by Interpol until a few days ago.

The signing two years ago by Paris judge Patrick Ramael had been widely seen as an embarrassment for French President Nicolas Sarkozy who was on an official visit to Morocco at the time.

"Interpol has mentioned shortcomings in the warrants and has asked that these shortcomings be corrected," justice ministry spokesman Guillaume Didier said, rejecting allegations of "a political dimension" to the prosecutor's request.

Questioned by AFP a spokesman for Lyon-based Interpol would not comment.

"Even if there is a request for details, we don't have anything to add and will not issue a comment," he said.

Ben Barka's son said he could only speculate why publication of the warrants was suspended.

"Did the justice minister change tack following orders by the Elysee (Sarkozy's office)? Are they determined not to go for the truth? If this is the case they must say so," he said.

Bechir Ben Barka had earlier Friday welcomed the publication of the warrants but also appeared to be wary given the many times purportedly good news turned out to be illusive.

By Saturday afternoon Moroccan media had failed to comment on the latest developments in the case.

The independent Al-Massae daily ran a headline saying "Interpol wants General Benslimane to be detained over the abduction of Mehdi Ben Barka".

The paper also said Interpol was set to issue a fifth warrant against a suspect only identified as "BH", a former Moroccan secret service nurse.

Al-Massae said Moroccan Justice Minister Abdelwahed Radi was "unaware" of the warrants.

In 2007 Morocco's justice ministry strongly criticised the conduct of the French probe into the case.

Etienne Fontaine/AFP/Expatica

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