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Protesters Attack South African Embassy

March 21, 1987

PARIS (AP) _ About 150 people climbed a fence Friday at the South African Embassy compound and painted slogans protesting the sentencing of a Frenchman in a South African tribal homeland, French officials reported.

In Johannesburg, South African Foreign Minister R.F. Botha said the demonstrators had entered the building, and although the main embassy offices on an upper floor were untouched, ″physical damage was done to office equipment and installations on the ground floor.″

Botha said his government had asked France ″to ensure the South African Embassy is protected from this brand of vandalism.″ He said the demonstration was ″contemptible, particularly in light of the recent wave of terrorism in Paris.″

The demonstration was called by the Young Communists of France to protest the four-year prison sentence of Pierre-Andre Albertini. He was convicted of arms smuggling in Ciskei, a black tribal homeland recognized as an independent republic only by South Africa’s white-controlled government. Ciskei is the small homeland of the Xhosta tribe.

Reporters at the South African Embassy on the Quai d’Orsay, a few blocks from the Foreign Ministry, said the demonstrators climbed a fence surrounding the mission at about 8 p.m. and entered the embassy gardens.

They chanted ″Free Albertini″ and painted slogans on the fence including, ″Nazi - Botha,″ and ″Boycott 100 Percent,″ the reporters said.

Police did not intervene, and the demonstrators eventually dispersed, according to the reporters.

Jacques Perreuc, secretary-general of the Young Communists, said the protest was ″the expression of the anger and revolt of youths against the conviction of Pierre-Andre Albertini.″

Anne Albertini, the imprisoned man’s sister, told reporters outside the embassy: ″The South African authorities must be persuaded that we will continue to mobilize opinion to demand the liberation of my brother.″

Albertini, a 27-year-old university lecturer, was sentenced Friday to four years in prison. He was arrested in October at the Univerity of Fort Hare in Ciskei on the weapons smuggling charges. The Ciskei government said in January the charges had been dropped and Albertini had agreed to testify against five black activists charged with terrorism-relate d offenses.

But when Albertini appeared in court Friday in Bisho, the Ciskei capital, he refused to take the oath and said he had been advised by the French government not to testify. He then was sentenced.

Earlier Friday, the French Foreign Ministry said in a statement: ″The French government has learned, with acute disappointment, of the condemnation of ... Albertino by the Bisho court.″ It said France ″will continue with determination″ its efforts to gain his freedom.

Albertini’s case received extensive publicity in France last month when his parents, Andre and Jeanne Albertini, spent five days at the Johannesburg airport waiting for permission to visit him.

Mrs. Albertini said then that she and her husband, teachers in Evreux, 50 miles west of Paris, were members of the French Communist Party, but her son was not. The parents eventually were allowed to visit their son for about an hour.

Boycotts against South Africa have been approved by scores of nations, including limited restrictions by the United States, because of the South African policy of apartheid. Fighting also has intensified between guerrillas of the predominantly black African National Congress and government security forces, along with violent demonstrations by black militants against apartheid.

By law and custom, apartheid establishes a racially segregated society in which the 24 million blacks have no vote in national affairs. The 5 million whites control the economy and maintain separate districts, schools and health services.

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