1989: Robert Lacoste
Letter sent to the Guardian obituaries page. I think it was published, at least in part, but I can’t remember for sure.
NB There is reference to the killing of Maurice Audin. In September 2018 President Macron finally admitted that the French state had murdered Audin. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/sep/16/algeria-france-war-macron-apology-murder-michele-audin-interview
Douglas Johnson, in his obituary of Robert Lacoste (Guardian, 13 March) writes “He was forced to cover up publicly for initiatives of which he did not approve, such as … the army’s notorious use of torture”. Forced by whom, pray? If Lacoste did disapprove of torture (and in the absence of documented memoirs we have no proof of this) then he would have done what any person of elementary decency would have done – resign.
That he did not do so is an indication that Lacoste’s role was a much more active one than Johnson would give us to understand. Lacoste continually demanded that more troops be sent to Algeria; he personally intervened to prevent an investigation into the disappearance of Maurice Audin (murdered during torture). Lacoste was not, as Johnson suggests, a victim of France’s murderous war in Algeria; he was one of its principal architects.
I had not known Lacoste was still alive till I read of his death, but like many who remember the bitter days of the Algerian war, I feel the earth is a sweeter and cleaner place without him.