Car Bomb Kills Driver, But Former Justice Minister Escapes Harm
PROVINS, France (AP) _ A bomb today blew up a car at the home of former Justice Minister Alain Peyrefitte, killing his driver, and City Hall said a caller claimed responsibility for the Direct Action terrorist group.
Peyrefitte, now mayor of Provins and a member of Parliament, was in Paris when a City Hall driver came to his house to pick up the car. The explosion wrecked the car and killed the driver instantly, apparently when he turned on the ignition just after 8:30 a.m.
The switchboard operator at City Hall said she received a brief call in which a woman said, ″Attack Alain Peyrefitte. Action Direct,″ and hung up. There was no immediate indication if police believed the call was from the extreme leftist group, which is linked to West Germany’s Red Army Faction.
Direct Action claimed the murder last month of Georges Besse, president of the state-owned Renault auto giant, who was shot to death outside his front door in cental Paris.
Peyrefitte’s political office identified the man killed today as Serge Langer, 51, a mechanic at City Hall and one of several city employees who served as drivers for Peyrefitte. Authorities said he was married and had a 27-year-old son.
Langer went to Peyrefitte’s home to pick up the Citroen BX car, which the city puts at Peyrefitte’s disposal on weekends, and a bomb apparently exploded when he started it, the office reported.
Peyrefitte’s wife, Monique, said her husband used his own car during the weekend instead of the Citroen and drove to Paris, 53 miles to the west, on Sunday night.
She said the explosion was so powerful ″half the car was blown over the wall into the garden″ and all the windows were broken in neighboring houses.
Peyrefitte told French television he had received no death threats recently, but thought he was made a target because of his outspoken conserverative views.
″I’m the symbol of the simple idea that there’s no liberty without order in a society,″ Peyrefitte said.
He said investigators told him they believed a charge of several pounds of plastic explosive caused the blast.
″I’m shaken by the horrible and unjust death of this employee,″ he said.
Peyrefitte, a senior figure in the neo-gaullist Rally for the Republic Party of Premier Jacques Chirac, has represented Provins area in Parliament since 1958. He has held numerous ministeries since 1962, including information, scientific research, culture, environment, administrative reform and planning, and justice.
Peyrefitte, 61, was justice minister from 1977 until 1981, when the Socialists won power. In 1976, he headed a special government commission on violence, criminality and delinquency.
He is the leading editorialist of the right-wing French daily newspaper Le Figaro.
Last month, the French terrorist movement Direct Action killed the president of the state-owned Renault auto company, Georges Besse, outside his Paris home.