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1986: French car chief shot dead

The head of the Renault car company, Georges Besse, has been assassinated in Paris.

Mr Besse was shot several times at about 2030 local time (1930 GMT) outside his home.

The killers, said to be a man and a woman, rode up on a motorcycle as Mr Besse emerged from his chauffeur-driven car.

The car chief was shot in the head and chest and died where he fell on the pavement.

No group has yet said it carried out the attack but French authorities suspect it is the work of the left-wing, anti-capitalist group, Action Directe.

If confirmed, it would be the group's first attack on an individual since killing a defence ministry official, General Rene Audran, in January last year.

It has since owned up to a number of bombings in Paris which targeted government buildings.

Georges Besse had been the head of the state-owned Renault car firm since January 1985.

'Unite against terrorism'

He was credited with turning the loss-making company around and taking it into profit in September.

However, his methods which included laying off 21,000 workers in his first 18 months in the post, led to bitter opposition from trade unions.

President Francois Mitterand, who is on a tour of African nations, said the death of Georges Besse caused him "great pain".

"This event confirms one more time that all our forces must unite against terrorism, without flinching and without compromise," Mr Mitterand said.

In Context
In March 1987 two women, Nathalie Menigon and Joelle Aubron, were charged with killing Georges Besse.

They were among four leading members of Action Directe arrested at an isolated farmhouse in north-central France the previous month.

In January 1989 the two women were sentenced to life imprisonment.

Two other Action Directe members, Jean-Marc Rouillan and Georges Cipriani, also received life sentences after being convicted as accomplices.

In January 2001 Jean-Marc Rouillan and Joelle Aubron went on hunger strike to protest about being held in virtual isolation.

The case of the four has been taken up by human rights group, Amnesty International.


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