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Two Frenchmen convicted of murder were executed today in...

HARARE, Zimbabwe -- Two Frenchmen convicted of murder were executed today in Harare's central prison, a government spokesman said. Diplomatic sources said the men were hanged despite a French appeal for mercy.

Frenchmen Gervais Boutanquoi, 34, and Marc Chemouil, 26, were hanged for the July 1981 murder of German-born cafe owner Erhard Kraft, the Zimbabwe government spokesman said.

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Boutanquoi, Chemouil and two other Frenchmen were arrested a month after the slaying in the village of Karoi, about 110 miles northwest of Harare.

The two were convicted in March 1982 and sentenced to hang to death for murdering Kraft by slitting his throat and shooting him in the back. The Frenchmen also killed Kraft's Alsatian dog before robbing the store safe.

Their appeal against the death sentence was turned down in November last year.

Diplomatic sources said the French Embassy in Harare was told last week that the two men were to be executed and unsuccessfully appealed to the Zimbabwe government of Prime Minister Robert Mugabe for clemency.

The two other Frenchmen, Alain Vignelongue, 28, and Serge Maynsson, 29, were both fined $800 for receiving stolen property in connection with the case.

All four men were former members of a French contingent of the defunct Rhodesian army. The contingent was recruited to fight black nationalist guerrillas during the war for independence.

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The executions are the second in Zimbabwe -- formerly the white minority-ruled nation known as Rhodesia -- since independence in April 1980. Late last year two dissidents were hanged for murder.

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