Deserter on Interpol list: radio

Oct. 21, 2002 at 3:25 PM
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PARIS, Oct. 21 (UPI) -- A French officer cadet listed as AWOL in Paris may be the Washington-area sniper, French media reported Monday.

France's RTL radio station, which first reported the news Monday, and various Paris newspapers identified the officer as a 25-year-old from Yugoslavia, who had enrolled in his second year at a French military school.

The man, whose name has not been released, was apparently a good marksman. He told friends he would spend the summer in Canada. But he was last seen in the United States, the radio station reported, without identifying which region.

RTL reported that some of the man's friends had apparently identified the Frenchman based on a tentative "robot portrait" being circulated of the sniper, who has killed 9 people and wounded three others in random shootings since Oct 2.

Meanwhile in Washington, a Pentagon official told foreign military attaches Monday, quoting French sources, that a French officer in the United States on a sharpshooting course was missing from his unit.

In Paris, a French Foreign Ministry spokesman said only, "We give American authorities all the information that we have." But a French Defense Ministry spokesman contacted by United Press International would only confirm the officer-in-training was missing.

"There is absolutely nothing that compels us to attach a link between the (Washington) sniper and this young man," the spokesman said in a telephone interview. The spokesman also did not give the student's name.

He said the man is at present considered a military deserter, having been absent from military school for more than six days.

According to RTL, Paris sent a message over the weekend to the international police organization, Interpol, listing the man was missing.

Interpol in turn notified Washington where -- RTL reported -- "he figures in the list of suspects" related to the Washington-area sniper shootings.

Washington investigators have given no indication that a Frenchman could be among their suspects.

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