Alexa

French presidential hopeful Royal denounces 'detestable act' of brother in Greenpeace bombing

French presidential hopeful Royal denounces 'detestable act' of brother in Greenpeace bombing

Socialist presidential contender Segolene Royal said Wednesday her brother committed a "detestable act" by helping bomb a Greenpeace protest ship as a French secret agent two decades ago.
Royal, a former minister who has vaulted to the top of polls before the election next spring, said she was surprised that reports had surfaced on her brother Gerard's role _ and sought to put the issue to rest.
"I have a brother, who 20 years ago was a soldier, a frogman, for whom I have a lot of admiration. He was indeed involved in a detestable act," she said on TF1 television, without elaborating. "But he had received orders for that."
The revelation gained headlines this week after another Royal brother, Antoine, said in a published interview that Gerard had claimed to have planted a bomb on the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior in Auckland, New Zealand, in 1985. A photographer for the environmentalist group, which was protesting French nuclear tests in the South Pacific, was killed.
"Fortunately, the nuclear tests stopped. But clearly, and unfortunately, a person died," Royal said, adding that she didn't know of her brother's secret role at the time. "The irony in this story is that I favored Greenpeace's action against the nuclear tests."
For his part, Gerard Royal has said that "I have never spoken about the matter, about whether I played a part in the operation or not. And I never will," according to a recent report in news magazine Le Nouvel Observateur.
His sister, 53, was speaking in her first TV appearance after announcing her candidacy for the party nomination Friday. She faces two rivals _ former Prime Minister Laurent Fabius and former Finance Minister Dominique Strauss-Kahn. The Socialist rank-and-file will select their candidate next month.
Strauss-Kahn, 57, was campaigning east of Paris on Wednesday.
Earlier, Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy _ widely expected to be the governing conservative party's candidate _ called for a 50-percent increase in funding for higher education by 2012 at a cost of euro5 billion (US$6.3 billion).
"We must make the university a budgetary priority," Sarkozy said at a party conference. By comparison, average spending for French university students is nearly three times less than that for their U.S. or Swiss counterparts, he said.