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Former French spy linked to Congo murder plot shot dead in Alps

Martin Bureau, AFP (file photo) | The Paris headquarters of France's external intelligence service, the DGSE.

A former French secret agent who was being investigated for a plot to kill an exiled Congolese opposition leader has been shot dead in the French Alps.

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Daniel Forestier, 57, who lived in the Alps region in eastern France, was found dead last Thursday in a remote car park in the small town of Ballaison, near Lake Geneva.

He had been shot five times, including in the head and heart, his lawyer Cedric Huissoud told reporters.

Forestier and another former agent from France's external intelligence service, the DGSE, were placed under formal investigation last September for "criminal conspiracy" and "possession of explosives" in connection with a plot to murder Congolese General Ferdinand Mbaou, who has lived in exile in France for some 20 years.

Forestier is believed to have worked for 14 years for the DGSE. He was living in the small town of Lucinges, near the Swiss border, where he had served on the town council and ran a café.

According to French media, investigators have not yet established a link between his death and the plot to murder Mbaou. But the manner of his killing suggested it was the work of professionals.

Citing France’s domestic intelligence agency, the DGSI, French daily Le Monde said Forestier had admitted he was part of a hit squad tasked with eliminating the Congolese dissident.

According to the report, Forestier told DGSI agents that reconnaissance missions in May and June 2018 had led him to believe the plot was “not feasible”.

Fleeing Congo

In October, Mbaou told AFP he was angry at the aborted plot, but "not surprised".

Like a number of France-based opponents of Republic of Congo's President Denis Sassou Nguesso, Mbaou believes he was targeted for criticising one of Africa's longest-serving leaders from what he thought to be a safe distance.

The 62-year-old general is known for his outspoken attacks on Sassou Nguesso, who has ruled the former French colony and oil-rich central African country, also known as Congo-Brazzaville, for some 35 years.

Mbaou fled Congo after his former boss, the country's first democratically-elected president Pascal Lissouba, was overthrown by Sassou Nguesso in 1997.

He had already survived an attempt on his life.

Mbaou believes it was the regime that sent hit men to shoot him in the back as he was leaving his home in Bessancourt north of Paris in November 2015.

He still has the bullet lodged in his torso.

"The doctors couldn't remove it because it is in a tricky spot, close to the heart," he told AFP.

No one was ever charged over the attack.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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