LONDON— Police said Saturday the man who gunned down an exiled opposition leader from the African island nation of the Seychelles was a “professional hit man” identified by one newspaper as a Libyan.

Gerald Hoareau, 34, a dedicated opponent of the Seychelles’ Marxist President Albert Rene and onetime aide to toppled pro-Western President James Mancham, was gunned down Friday as he arrived at his home in a quiet section of north London. His killing caused a furor among London’s estimated 2,000 exiles from the Seychelles, some of whom want to overthrow the pro Libyan leadership of the nation of 92 islands strung out in the Indian Ocean 1,300 miles from the African coast. Sources in the police antiterrorist squad called the slaying political and sent out an alert to all airports and seaports. Scotland Yard said it believed the dark-skinned lone gunman who killed Hoareau was a “professional hit man.” Hoareau’s supporters say he had been the target of repeated death threats and had survived a previous assassination attempt recently. The Sunday Times newspaper reported Hoareau had prepared a “three page dossier” before his death for the paper, describing a bungled plot by Rene to kill him in September in Cannes.

In the Seychelles, Renee angrily denied his government’s involvement and a senior Seychelles official said it was believed the murder was the result of a struggle between rival opposition groups.

Early editions of the Sunday Telegraph quoted senior antiterrorist officers as saying they believed the bearded assassin was a hired Libyan hit man with a hit list of several other anti-Rene exiles, including Mancham, who led his nation to independence from Britain in 1976 but was toppled a year later. Hoareau was implicated with Mancham in an abortive attempt by 44 mercenaries led by legendary soldier offer tune Col. “Mad Mike” Hoare, a veteran mercenary based in South Africa, to topple Rene’s government. The mercenaries arrived by passenger jet in the Seychelles from Switzerland masquerading as a vacationing drinking club. But their plot was foiled by a customs official who spotted weapons in their baggage.

In a firefight which followed, two mercenaries and a Seychelles officer were killed before most of the hired gunman hijacked an Air India jet to South Africa where they were arrested.

Article extracted from this publication >>  December 6, 1985