Bob Denard (Grayan-et-l'Hôpital, April 7, 1929 - Paris, October 13, 2007) was a French mercenary. He was known as Gilbert Bourgead or Saīd Mustapha Mhadjou. His death was announced by his sister on 14 October 2007.
Since the 1960s he has been involved in numerous postcolonial conflicts (Yemen, Iran, Nigeria, Benin, Gabon, Angola, Kabinda, Zaire, Comoros). He had French support in several of them.
Between 1960 and 1963 he was one of the leaders of the Katanga uprising, aided by Moïse Tshombe. In 1963-64 he served in Yemen in support of the royalist army. He returned to Zaire in 1965 to fight the communist rebels, in 1975 he fought in Angola for UNITA and in 1977 he attempted a coup in Benin.
He was the protagonist in four coups in the Comoros. In 1975 he ousted President Ahmed Abdallah. He took part in three other coups: 1978, 1989 and 1995. Bob Denard became the commander of the presidential guard, converted to Islam, the name Said Mustafa Majub and Comorian citizenship. A mercenary military base was established in the Comoros. Denard was actively involved in business, became a co-owner of a chain of hotels and land plots. The Presidential Guard has turned into a large (on a Comorian scale) economic entity.
In November 1989, fearing a new coup d'état and complete usurpation of power by Denard, President Abdullah signed a decree disarming the Guards. A few days later, Abdallah was killed under unclear circumstances, and Denard was evacuated to South Africa, after which he was extradited to France. At home, he stood trial on charges of killing Ahmed Abdallah, but acquitted for lack of evidence.
On the night of September 27, 1995, Denard again arrived in the Comoros at the head of a detachment of 33 people. However, the attempt to seize power was thwarted by French troops in accordance with the Franco-Comorian interstate treaty. Denard was arrested, taken to France and brought to trial again. Denard was also prosecuted in Italy for recruiting mercenaries for a coup in the Comoros.
This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (September 2016) (Learn how and when to remove this template message) In 1989, fearing a probable coup d'état, president Ahmed Abdallah signed a decree ordering the Presidential Guard, led by Denard, to disarm the armed forces. Shortly after the signing of the decree, a military officer allegedly entered president Abdallah's office and shot him, injuring Denard at the same time. A few days later, Denard agreed to leave the Comoros after meeting French businessman Jean-Yves Ollivier, and was evacuated to South Africa by French paratroopers.
Denard then waited in the Médoc region, in France, for his trial for the murder of president Ahmed Abdallah in 1989. With his lieutenant Dominique Malacrino, he had to face charges in May 1999 for his role in the 1989 coup, in which, according to the French prosecution, president Ahmed Abdallah was killed on the orders of Denard because he was about to remove Denard as head of the presidential guard. The prosecution said Ahmed Abdallah was shot on orders from Denard during a faked attack on his palace on the night of 26 November 1989. But a few days before the trial, Abdallah's family dropped their suit, and finally Denard and Dominique Malacrino were acquitted because of lack of evidence. The Comoros experienced its twentieth coup attempt since independence on the day that the trial began.
Afterward, president Mohamed Taki Abdulkarim declared that he refused Denard's return to the Comoros. On 6 November 1998, Abdulkarim died under suspicious circumstances. His family suspected a poisoning and asked for an autopsy. The post-mortem examination was refused and Abdulkarim was said to have died of natural causes.
On the night of 27 September 1995 Denard launched a fourth coup Operation Kaskari, in the Comoros. Denard landed on the Comoros with 33 men in Zodiac inflatable boats in an attempted coup against president Said Mohamed Djohar, Abdallah's successor. On 4 October, in accordance with an agreement between France and the Comoros, the French army put an end to the attempt. The French government sent an expeditionary force to capture Denard and his mercenaries. Despite having over 300 armed Comorians ready to fight and having machine gun posts set up, Denard surrendered without a shot being fired. Denard was brought back to France by the French DGSE intelligence agency and spent ten months in a Paris jail. At his trial a number of former Gaullist politicians, including Charles Pasqua, spoke on his behalf.
Later trials and death
In 2001, Guido Papalia, Italian attorney of Verona, prosecuted Denard for having tried to recruit mercenaries in the far-right Italian movement (through Franco Nerozzi) in order to make a coup against Colonel Azali Assoumani, the current president, also opposed to his return to the Comoros.
On 9 March 2006, attorney Olivier Bray asked for five years of prison for the 1995 coup d'état against Said Mohamed Djohar under the code-name "Eskazi", and sentences between one and four years for his 26 accomplices. During the three-week-long trial, Denard and his accomplices tried to convince the court that they had acted with implicit support of French authorities. Dominique Malacrino talked about the "numerous phone calls of Jacques Foccart, then responsible for the African office at the Elysée palace" to Denard. Emmanuel Pochet, another suspect, declared that Denard had "support from senior officers of the special forces of the DGSE", the French external intelligence agency. Olivier Feneteau, another suspect, declared that he had belonged in the past to the "action service" of the DGSE. On 9 March, Denard's lawyer presented declarations by former president Djohar, who had stated, during an interview to Comorian newspaper Kashkazi at the end of October 2005, that his security chief, Captain Rubis, a French officer that the French authorities had recommended to him, "was aware of the coup".
In June 2006 Denard, who by then was suffering from Alzheimer's, was found guilty of "belonging to a gang who conspired to commit a crime", and was given a five-year suspended jail term.