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French Move Angers New Zealand

December 14, 1987|From Reuters

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — A French agent, convicted for his role in the sinking of a vessel belonging to the Greenpeace movement and the death of a environmentalist, was on his way to Paris today without the consent of an angry New Zealand.

Prime Minister David Lange said Maj. Alain Mafart was flying home on a French military plane from Hao atoll, where he was supposed to spend at least another 18 months in custody under a U.N.-arranged agreement between Wellington and Paris.

Lange said France had told New Zealand that Mafart was suffering from unspecified stomach pains but that the French had turned down Wellington's offer to fly a doctor to Hao, a military base in French Polynesia.

Mafart and another agent, Capt. Dominique Prieur, were each sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment after pleading guilty to sabotage and manslaughter in connection with the sinking of the Greenpeace vessel, the Rainbow Warrior, at Auckland on July 10, 1985. A Dutch national was killed in the incident.

Mafart and Prieur were transferred to Hao last year under a U.N.-arranged agreement and were supposed to spend at least three years on the island.

Under the terms of the agreement, France formally apologized to Wellington and paid $7 million in compensation.

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