A British minister has used parliamentary privilege to publicly expose businessmen involved in breaking UN sanctions against Angolan rebels.
EWEN MACASKILL reports
The British foreign office minister Peter Hain yesterday took the unique step of publicly naming three businessmen whom he claimed have been breaking United Nations sanctions on rebel forces in Angola.
Using parliamentary privilege, which carries immunity from libel action, he blamed a Belgian, a Portuguese South African and a former senior KGB officer. He yesterday referred all three to the UN sanctions committee, which has the power to prosecute them under international law.
He took the action after a discussion last month with Susan Rice, the United States state department's assistant secretary for Africa, who endorsed the approach.
Hain has been frustrated that the British and US governments have extensive intelligence in relation to almost daily breaches of the UN sanctions but have until now been unable to go public for fear of compromising their sources.
Hain said he would make a priority of trying to end the Angolan civil war, which in its various phases has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives since 1975. The Unita forces, led by Jonas Savimbi, were heavily supported by South Africa, the CIA, and western governments such as Britain under Margaret Thatcher, for more than a decade.
Today the foreign office would like to see Savimbi out of the picture as the best way of achieving peace.
Hain also urged the Ukrainian government to tackle its arms dealers, who have been active in Angola.
He was replying to a question from the Labour MP Joan Ryan, who said private companies, individuals and other countries were breaching UN sanctions by supplying fuel and other goods to Angola.
He told the Commons: "It is absolutely vital that private individuals and companies engaged in breaking the law by deliberately breaching UN sanctions on Unita must be stopped."
He named as a sanctions-buster Jacques "Kiki" Lemaire, a Belgian who he said was widely known to fly diesel fuel to Unita airstrips in either a Boeing 707 or a Caravelle. He had been based first in the former Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo), and then South Africa.
Hain also named Tony Teixeira, a Portuguese South African who is chairman of the Central African Mining Company and was also accused of flying in diesel.
The third was a Ukrainian, Victor Bout, who, according to Hain, ran the air transport company Cess, which has flown arms to Unita. A former senior KGB officer in Africa, Bout formerly had the surname Boutov.
Hain said it is widely believed that Bout either owns or charters an aircraft impounded by Zambia en route to Angola last year.
Hain told the UN security council last month that he planned to name and shame others involved in sanctions busting.
-- The Guardian, January 19 2000.