France to release Ben Barka documents

15th November 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Nov 14 (AFP) - The French government will make public classified documents relating to the 1965 disappearance of the Moroccan opposition leader, Mehdi Ben Barka, which caused a major political scandal, officials said Sunday.

PARIS, Nov 14 (AFP) - The French government will make public classified documents relating to the 1965 disappearance of the Moroccan opposition leader, Mehdi Ben Barka, which caused a major political scandal, officials said Sunday.

Defence Minister Michele Alliot-Marie has agreed to follow the recommendations of a national defence committee and release the 73 documents on the case which have not yet been made public, defence ministry officials said.

The committee's decision came after a magistrate investigating Ben Barka's disappearance had asked to see the documents.

Previous secret documents on the affair, which caused political uproar, were made public in 2001.

Ben Barka, an outspoken opponent of then Moroccan king Hassan II, disappeared without trace after being picked up by French police on October 29, 1965. His body was never found.

The Moroccan secret services, French intelligence and the criminal underworld have all been implicated in the affair, but the facts have never been fully elucidated.

After a trial in 1967, two French officers were jailed for their role in the kidnapping, but the judge ruled that the main guilty party was the then Moroccan interior minister Muhamad Oufkir.

A former criminal, Georges Figon, who testified to having seen Oufkir knife Ben Barka to death, was earlier found dead, officially by suicide.

The Ben Barka affair severely damaged the image of Hassan II, who died in 1999, and strained the north African country's relations with France.

Ben Barka's family was allowed back into the country in 1999 after 36 years in exile.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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