Belgian Minister Says Arrests Virtually Wiped Out Fighting Communist Cells
BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) _ The arrest of four Belgians has virtually wiped out the Fighting Communist Cells terrorist organization after a 14-month bombing spree, Justice Minister Jean Gol said on Tuesday.
″We now have in all probability the persons who must have played an important role″ in the terrorist group, said Gol.
Among the four arrested on Monday at a fast-food restaurant was Pierre Carette, a 33-year-old printer and reputed leader of the terrorist gang.
Gol said the four were being held in a ″secret prison″ after they were charged with conspiracy, possession of illegal arms, forgery and carrying false identity papers.
He said the suspects carried ″heavy-caliber″ handguns but did not resist arrest when plainclothes police officers burst into the restaurant in Namur, 34 miles south of Brussels.
The charges were not further explained.
The three others are Didier Chevolet, 30; Pascale Vandegeerde, 28; and Bernard Sassoye, 22. Official sources said Carette, Chevolet and Ms. Vandegeerde founded a print shop in 1981 to disseminate militant leftist ideas.
Sassoye, they said, is wanted for desertion and at one time lived with Carette at the Brussels address listed in the print shop’s founding statutes.
Police last summer arrested Chantal Paternostre, a 39-year-old anarchist, in connection with activities by the terrorist gang after a raid on a Brussels apartment.
The five suspects now in prison have not been charged with terrorist activities, since such charges do not exist under Belgian law.
″About a year after the emergence of the phenomenon of Belgian terrorism, five people suspected of terrorist acts″ are in jail, Gol said.
He added, ″Compared to bigger countries ... that deploy much more (to combat terrorism), this is not a negligible result for a small country like ours.″
″Carette has admitted to being Carette. Beyond that he refuses to make a statement,″ Gol said. The three other suspects have also made no statement.
Gol said the four suspects arrested Monday had links with the French Direct Action terrorist group, and that house searches after the arrests provided ″written documents of interest″ in the Fighting Communist Cells investigation, a typewriter and 60,000 francs (about $1,150) in cash.
″There have certainly been contacts″ between the two groups, he said.
Last March, police found the fingerprints of Nathalie Menigon and Jean-Marc Rouillan, identified as two Direct Action leaders, as well as Carette in a Brussels apartment that was empty when police got there.
Officials have also linked the Fighting Communist Cells to the West German Red Army Faction terrorist group.
In 1978, Carette helped occupy the Brussels office of Der Spiegel to protest the West German conservative magazine’s criticism of the Red Army Faction.
Since Oct. 2, 1984, the Fighting Communist Cells have claimed responsibility for 21 bomb attacks in Belgium, including six along the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s emergency fuel pipeline. Other targets were offices of political parties and western defense contractors and banks.
The Belgium explosions caused much property damage. One explosion killed two Brussels firemen after police failed to notify them of an anonymous phone call warning that a bomb would go off.