The government today named the army chief of staff to head France's secret service after a scandal over the sinking of a Greenpeace vessel cost the former intelligence chief his job.
Government spokeswoman Georgina Dufoix said Gen. Rene Imbot, the new head of the General Directorate for External Security, would "reestablish order," reorganize the secret service and report on its role in the mining of the Rainbow Warrior at Auckland, New Zealand, on July 10.
She said Socialist President Francois Mitterrand stressed to a Cabinet meeting "the great toughness of character" of Imbot, 60, a 20-year veteran of the French Foreign Legion.
Adm. Pierre Lacoste, fired last week as intelligence chief for refusing to answer official questions on the sinking of the ship by French agents, was retired from active service, she said.
Prime Minister Laurent Fabius has admitted that the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior, which killed a photographer, was carried out by two French agents.
The newspaper Le Monde said that former Defense Minister Charles Hernu ordered the vessel to be "neutralized" and that the agents possibly interpreted that as permission to use violence. Hernu resigned last week during the uproar over the Greenpeace affair.
Gen. Maurice Schmitt will become army chief of staff, a post Imbot has held since 1983.
In other developments, a lawyer for Police Capt. Paul Barril, sought in connection with leaks to the press over the Greenpeace affair, said today that he was "at the disposal of the judicial authorities."
Lawyer Francis Szpiner did not disclose Barril's whereabouts. He said the allegations against Barril, a controversial figure who was fired from his post as deputy commander of a special anti-terrorist squad, amounted to "a miserable maneuver by political authorities mired in lies."
Two French agents and a warrant officer of the army combat frogmen's school in Corsica were arrested Tuesday for allegedly leaking details about the Greenpeace scandal to the press.
Prime Minister David Lange of New Zealand has demanded that France apologize for what he called "a sordid act of state-backed terrorism" and pay reparations to New Zealand and the Greenpeace movement.