One of our Walt's is missing.

Ivory Coast rebels won't kill NZ suspect
March 15, 2005 - 5:19AM

Rebels in the west African country of Ivory Coast say they will not execute a New Zealand man they have detained as a suspected mercenary hired by Ivory Coast's government.

Rebel spokesman Amadou Kone said insurgents detained Brian Sands, 36, on Friday, when he was found in rebel areas with body armour, satellite navigation equipment and phone numbers of government-loyalist politicians and international mercenary companies.

"We're questioning him and he has offered us his intelligence services. So that makes him a mercenary," said Kone by phone from the northern rebel stronghold of Bouake, where Sands is being held at a prison.

Kone said Sands is suspected of working undercover for Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo, because Sands' New Zealand passport didn't contain any government-issue entry stamps.

The government denied the charge.

"We don't use mercenaries," defence minister Rene Amani said.

"We don't have New Zealanders in the army."

Ivory Coast's 2002-2003 civil war has left the west African nation split between northern rebel-held areas and a government-controlled south, although traffic moves between the zones.

Kone said rebels have contacted the International Committee of the Red Cross and the UN mission in Ivory Coast to notify them of Sands' detention.

In New Zealand, Prime Minister Helen Clark said foreign ministry officials were working through Britain's Foreign and Commonwealth Office to secure the man's release since New Zealand has no consular representation in Ivory Coast.

"I'm told the person involved does have a valid New Zealand passport," Clark said without naming the man.

"The rebels might execute the person as a government spy," said Clark.

Asked if rebels intend to kill Sands, Kone, the spokesman, laughed and said: "No. We've already contacted the Red Cross, who will come to take a look at him."

New Zealand foreign minister Phil Goff said officials had spoken to the man's family, and there were indications he may have mental health problems. Some of the information he told the rebels may have been invented, Goff said.
"Our goal would be to persuade his captors that this ... man does not constitute a threat and to try to secure his release," Goff told New Zealand's TV One's Close Up program.

Ivory Coast tumbled into civil war after a failed September 2002 coup attempt against Gbagbo sparked wider fighting.

A 2003 peace deal has failed to take hold. More than 10,000 United Nations and French peacekeepers patrol the frontlines.

© 2005 AP
Bloke’s a Mitty extraordinaire. From what I can see he has been larging it up in front of his rebel captors, telling them all sorts of porkies about his military experiences - such as he was a Captain in the NZ Army and done eight years in the French Foreign Legion. The NZ Army has no record of him but he was in the FFL – not for eight years thiugh, he done about 9 months before they kicked him out for being 'temperamentally unsuited' (read: ‘a head case’).

Even one of his former school teachers has said that he was the craziest kid he ever taught.!!

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