In June, Britain’s The Independent reported that John Bredenkamp (noses9; 30; 50; 113; 114; 117; 126 and 140), accused of breaking Rhodesia sanctions in the Seventies and of supplying arms to both sides in the Iran-Iraq war, is suing British Foreign Secretary William Hague after he learnt, thanks to WikiLeaks, that the UK was behind a decision to blacklist him for supporting Robert Mugabe.
His lawyers argue that the government produced no evidence to substantiate the allegations and that Bredenkamp has always “vigorously rejected” claims that he supported Mugabe. (His counsel told the court the tycoon had only met the dictator once in 1982.)
More than a year ago, the Council of the European Union announced that it had decided to remove Bredenkamp and his companies from its so-called Zimbabwe Sanctions List.
“Since January 2009, I have tried without success to establish the basis on which the decision to impose and maintain sanctions was made. Neither the EU nor UK had responded to requests for the information,” he said.
“It was only as recently as November 2011 that I learned that WikiLeaks had published a cable from the US Embassy in London which recorded that the UK had requested a meeting with the US relating to sanctions generally.
“The meeting took place on 26 January 2009, the exact day on which sanctions were imposed on me by the EU.
“The UK government was recorded as telling the US Embassy it believed the EU’s case against me to be ‘thin on evidence’. http://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/01/09LONDON254.html
“Legal proceedings against both the EU and the UK will continue and I am unable to comment any further,” Bredenkamp told The Independent.
► A much earlier report, in November 1993, by Chris Blackhurst in The Independent, puts a more serious perspective on Bredenkamp’s role in international affairs. It reported on “a mysterious international tobacco company, which has an office in Britain and enjoyed close ties to the security services, and was accused of being a key player in the supply of arms to Iraq”.
The respected French television programme Marche du Siecle said that the company, Casalee, based in Luxembourg and with a large branch in Berkshire, England acted as an intermediary for a huge shipment of 9 million anti-personnel mines to Iraq in 1986, to be used in the war with Iran, the Gulf war and attacks on the Kurds.
The mines were made by Valsella, an Italian company, and shipped to Iraq via Singapore.
An Italian called Mario Fallani acted as Casalee's Middle East man.
Casalee has long been suspected of being a 'front company', closely involved with the Western intelligence services. In April 1984, a deputation of Arab League foreign ministers informed the Belgian government that the company, which had a strong presence in the country, should cease supplying arms to Iran.
Casalee protested it was merely trading in tobacco, but arms trader Ruy Mendes Franco was able to produce a catalogue from the company listing a range of items made by the South African firm Armscor and the Israeli defence contractor Israeli Military Industries.
One of the items was the South African 155mm artillery gun developed for Armscor by Gerald Bull, the 'Supergun' inventor.
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