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Police Believe Besse Killers Were Two Women from Direct Action

November 18, 1986

PARIS (AP) _ Police said Tuesday they believe two women from the terrorist group Direct Action were responsible for killing industrialist Georges Besse, who was gunned down on the street outside his home.

The president of the state-owned Renault automobile company was shot about 8 p.m. Monday a few steps from the front door of his apartment building near the Monteparnasse railway station.

Witnesses said one of women calmly walked up to Besse, 58, and fired the shots that killed him while the other acted as a lookout.

Police sources, quoted by the French news media, said questioning of witnesses gave this version of the slaying:

Besse came face to face with the two women as he was about to enter the apartment building.

One women, about 30, shot Besse first in the shoulder, and when he fell to the sidewalk she shot him twice more at pointblank range in the chest and head. She was ″covered″ by the other woman, but the accounts did not say if the second woman also was armed.

The second woman then asked the killer: ″Is it really the right one?″ and her companion replied, ″Yes, it’s sure.″

Then the killer told a pedestrian, a woman who was walking by at the time of the shooting, ″Beat it 3/8″ and the killer and her companion fled on foot.

Pamphlets found in a Paris subway station claimed responsibility in the name of Direct Action, a terrorist group of the extreme left that has carried out many other attacks.

A police spokesman said the printed statements ″appeared authentic″ and carried the organization’s symbol, a five-pointed star. The same spokesman said earlier that the source of the attack ″is undoubtedly Direct Action.″

An autopsy report said Besse was hit by three bullets: one just above the left eyebrow that lodged in his brain, one in the upper chest that passed through his back and a third in the left shoulder that came out the back of his neck.

Investigators found three 9mm cartridge casings at the scene.

Police say there were seven main witnesses, most of them neighbors, but none could provide detailed descriptions of the killer and her companion.

Besse was shot moments after he left his chauffeur-driven limousine about 50 yards from home. A Renault official said Besse, who took over France’s largest auto company since January 1985, never used a personal bodyguard.

Renault said Tuesday that Aime Jardon, the company’s assistant director- gener al, would be in charge until the government appoints a new president.

The Direct Action pamphlets were scattered at the Raspail subway station, near the murder scene. They were signed: ″Action Directe, Commando Pierre Overney.″

Overney was a Maoist militant who died in clashes outside the main Renault plant in suburban Boulogne-Billancourt on Feb. 25, 1972. He was killed by a factory guard who later was killed by extremists.

Leftists founded Direct Action in 1979. They included Jean-Marc Rouillan, who was active in a clandestine French organization that opposed Gen. Franciscoo Franco until the Spanish dictator died in November 1975.

Direct Action began with purely domestic objectives, fighting what it called the forces oppressing immigrants, the unemployed and the unfortunate. It bombed and occasionally shot up facades of official buildings such as the Labor Ministry, but at the beginning it avoided causing injury.

Police believe it has only a few committed members and about 200 sympathizers.

In 1982, Direct Action split into ″domestic″ and ″international″ factions. Several members of the domestic group have been arrested - notably Andre Olivier, who was underground for several years - and police seized large quantities of documentary material on the organization.

Three other members face trial next month in the killing of two Paris policemen.

Rouillan and his companion, Nathalie Menigon, were released from jail under an amnesty when the Socialists came to power in 1981 but were quickly put back on the wanted list.

They are believed to run Direct Action’s international wing, which has links with West German and Italian terrorists and may be connected with extremist Palestinian groups.

In 1984, Rouillan, Miss Menigon, Joelle Aubron and other Direct Action members linked up with Belgium’s Fighting Communist Cells. The last concrete trace of the three French terrorists was their fingerprints, found in 1985 in a hideout where police caught Pierre Carette, presumed leader of the Belgian group.

In 1985, the international wing ″officially″ linked with West Germany’s Red Army Faction. In joint statements, they claimed responsibility for killing Gen. Rene Audran, the top French arms salesman, outside his suburban Paris home.

Besse had been named president of Renault in hopes of turning the struggling company around. He instituted an austerity program that cost about 22,000 jobs and irritated labor.

French unions condemned the killing, and the Communist Party paper L’Humanite said Tuesday: ″The blood of a managing director in the gutter does not solve the problems of the class struggle.″

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