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France shelves Moroccan kidnap arrest warrants.

Summary: France suspended international arrest warrants for four Moroccans over the 1965 abduction of an opponent to Morocco's then King Hassan II early on Saturday after it had issued them earlier

France suspended international arrest warrants for four Moroccans over the 1965 abduction of an opponent to Morocco's then King Hassan II early on Saturday after it had issued them earlier citing a request for information from Interpol.

A French justice ministry spokesman said earlier on Friday that four arrest warrants were sent to Interpol, the international police organization, and would be issued worldwide. 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.

Hours after the justice ministry announced the warrants were sent, the Paris prosecutor's office said it was suspending the issuance of the international arrest warrants because Interpol was seeking additional information from the judge overseeing the case.

"In effect, Interpol has requested more information so that the arrest warrants can be implemented. Without these precisions, they cannot be," the prosecutor's office said.

The information requested would allow the individuals targeted to be identified, it said.

"Reasons of the state"

Ben Barka's son, Bechir, slammed the decision to suspend the arrest warrants for his father's kidnappers citing "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.

"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 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.

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Publication:Al Arabiya (Saudi Arabia)
Date:Oct 2, 2009
Words:477
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