Wikileaks: Togo, Boko and Nine Dead French Soldiers

Arms Trafficking in the Ivory Coast

The released Wikileaks cable below basically alleges that nine French soldiers and an American citizen were killed by an attack on a French airbase by the Government of the Ivory Coast. The Ivory Coast got the military weapons and airplane from Belarus through a French mercenary named Robert Montoya.

The planes allegedly arrived in Togo unassembled, but handily came with Belarus technicians and pilots to put the plane together in Togo and fly it into the Ivory Coast. After the killings of the French soldiers and the unnamed American, Togo's Interior Minister at the time, Francois Boko, had the Belarus technicians and workers arrested, waiting for the French to come pick them up. It seems, according to Mr. Boko, the French were less interested pursuing those responsible for the deadly attack on their soldiers than it's good relationship with Belarus.

Very cloak and dagger, no?

The problem with this report is the sole source for this information. As we learned in the runup to the second Iraq war, reliance upon a single source can lead to bad decisions. Further, the source is in exile and fighting for relevancy. See below for the story about hiding in the German Embassy until getting into France for safety. This report has interesting information that warrants further checking, but alone is not the basis for any action.

" ¶2. (C) At his invitation, we met on January 31 with
Francois Boko, who had served as Togo's Interior Minister
until April 2005, when he was removed from office, took
refuge in the German Embassy, and then left for exile in
France. Boko had broken ranks with the GoT (Government of Togo) by calling for
the postponement of elections in Togo in view of the
instability building during the pre-election period (Ref A).

¶3. (C) Boko commented extensively on the links between Togo
and the November 6, 2004, bombing in Cote d'Ivoire, when GOCI
forces attacked a French military base, killing nine French
soldiers and an Amcit civilian. He said that the two
Sukhoi-25 aircraft used in the bombing had been provided to
the GOCI by former French gendarme Robert Montoya (Refs B and
C). Montoya had obtained these and other aircraft and
military equipment from Belarus and had also engaged
Belarusian pilots and technicians. The planes had arrived
unassembled in Togo, where they were assembled and then flown
to Cote d'Ivoire. Boko said that the GoT leadership and
military were aware of the presence of the planes and
pilots/technicians in Togo. Boko said that French forces
also had to be aware of their presence because the Belarusian
planes were kept at the same Lome air facility the French
were using to operate their own air missions in support of
French forces in Cote d'Ivoire.

" ¶4. (C) After the November 6 bombings, Boko said that he had
had the Belarusian pilots/technicians arrested when they
returned to Togo from Cote d'Ivoire. He said that there were
nine of them. Boko said he furnished details about their
identities and activities to the French, through France's
Embassy in Lome and also through direct contact with General
Poncet, who then commanded France's Operation Licorne in Cote
d'Ivoire. Boko thought there would be high French interest
in the information he had conveyed but was surprised when the
French did not express much interest. After holding the nine
Belarusians for about two weeks, Boko was told by the French
(including General Poncet, who communicated directly with
Boko) to release them. The only explanation he received
(again including from General Poncet) was that France "was
not looking to complicate relations with Belarus over this
matter." "

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