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Captors Issue Threat to Kill Frenchman : Pro-Iranian Group in Beirut Demands Paris Explain Iraq Support

March 12, 1987|United Press International

BEIRUT — Pro-Iranian terrorists today threatened to kill a French hostage and vowed that Syrian troops occupying West Beirut will never succeed in freeing the captives--including two Americans--they are holding.

The Revolutionary Justice Organization said it will "execute" Jean Louis Normandin within 48 hours unless the French government issues a "clarification" of "irresponsible" remarks by President Francois Mitterrand.

Mitterrand said Tuesday he hoped the 7,000 Syrian troops who moved into West Beirut on Feb. 22 to end three years of bloody Muslim militia rule would secure the release of French hostages. The French president also said France will continue supplying Iraq with weapons to use against Iran in their Persian Gulf War.

Television Reporter

The guerrillas' statement was accompanied by a color photograph of Normandin, 34, a French television reporter kidnaped March 8, 1986. He wore a black-and-blue sweater, had a beard and appeared haggard.

The Revolutionary Justice Organization, in a handwritten note in Arabic sent to a Western news agency in Beirut, said it was unhappy with Mitterrand's comments.

"If they don't issue a clarification within this deadline, Normandin will be tried and executed, and we will not consider ourselves bound by the present agreements and promises," the terror group warned.

The group called on French Prime Minister Jacques Chirac, who it said was "responsible for the guarantees and agreements" arranged in earlier hostage negotiations, to clarify Mitterrand's statements.

Change in Attitude

"Let Mr. Chirac know that a drastic change will develop on the overall situation after 48 hours and everybody must shoulder their responsibilities," the group said.

In Paris, a Foreign Ministry spokesman refused comment on the statement.

France is negotiating with Iran on repaying $1 billion borrowed from the Shah of Iran in 1974 for Iranian participation in a European nuclear power program. France repaid $330 million last November in the hope Iran would pressure kidnapers to free the hostages.

The Revolutionary Justice Organization released two French hostages in June and a third on Christmas Eve. France balked at repaying more money until more hostages are freed.

At least five other Frenchmen are missing and presumed kidnaped in Lebanon. Four of the abductions were claimed by another group, the pro-Iranian Islamic Jihad.

No one has claimed responsibility for abducting a fifth Frenchman, Roger Auque, 31, a photographer and free-lance journalist kidnaped Jan. 13.

The organization is also believed to hold two of the eight Americans missing in Lebanon--Joseph J. Cicippio, 56, kidnaped last Sept. 12, and Austin Tracy, 55, abducted Oct. 21.

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