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Tuesday, 11 December, 2001, 11:44 GMT
French army spy trial begins
Pierre-Henri Bunel
Mr Bunel says he was acting under orders
The trial of a French army major accused of handing over Nato bombing plans to the Serb government just ahead of the war in Kosovo has begun in Paris.

Pierre-Henri Bunel, 49, is being tried at a special military court for "secret dealings with a foreign power", an offence which carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in jail.


I want to show that I am not a traitor. I want to do this for my honour, for my family... and also for my fellow soldiers, who do not understand how I could have committed treason

Pierre-Henri Bunel
It is alleged that Mr Bunel passed on information about possible Nato targets during a series of meetings with a Serb agent in 1998.

Mr Bunel, who was attached to Nato in Brussels at the time, has admitted that he passed on information to Yugoslavia, but denies the treason charges, saying he was acting under the orders of French intelligence services.

Secret call

Earlier on Tuesday, in remarks broadcast by France Inter Radio, Mr Bunel said that he was given orders to try to convince the Serbs that the threat of Nato bombardments, if they did not withdraw their troops from Kosovo, was a real one.

He said he had received a phone call on what he called "a line that could only have been a military line", telling him he should convince Jovan Milanovic, a Serbian agent based in Brussels, that Nato was serious.

Actual Nato bomb target
Targets allegedly identified by Mr Bunel were, in the event, not hit

He denied, however, that he had provided Mr Milanovic with a list of Nato targets.

"What I gave him was a list of the types of targets that might be hit without giving details of any locations, and above all there was the number of targets that would be hit. That's all, there were neither the places nor the timing nor how it would be done," he said.

Mr Bunel added that he did not even have this kind of information at his disposal.

"I want to show that I am not a traitor. I want to do this for my honour, for my family, which has suffered a lot as a result of this affair, and also for my fellow soldiers, who do not understand how I could have committed treason," he said.

Campaign 'damaged'

Mr Bunel was arrested in 1998 and put under investigation by a Paris court, he was later released and in 1999 a change in the law meant the case was passed to a military tribunal.

The potential Nato targets allegedly identified by Mr Bunel were, in the event, not hit as the alliance postponed the threatened strikes.

Other alliance members, however, have blamed Serbian sympathies within the French military for hampering Nato's campaign in the Balkans.

In 1998 a French liaison officer was accused of allegedly scuppering an attempt to arrest the Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic by leaking details of the plan.

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