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After Fleeing NY Cocaine Charge, French Diplomat Serman Resurfaces in San Francisco as Sarkozy Consul : Press Questions

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, April 10 -- When French diplomat Romain Serman was arrested in Manhattan in 2006 for “attempting to purchase cocaine” and resisting arrest, he never faced trial or punishment.

  As reflected in the New York Police Department arrest document Inner City Press has exclusively published, here, Serman immediately -- or after resisting arrest -- insisted to police that he was a diplomat with the French Mission to the United Nations.

  Yet, after fleeing the US to escape this charge in 2006, Serman has re-appeared in the US representing France as its general consul in San Francisco. Several sources interviewed by Inner City Press say this is legally problematic, and may reflect a failure to disclose by France, negligence by the United States -- or both.

  When Serman signed the arrest document, he added “Dip. Fr” after his name. And, sure enough, under then French Permanent Representative to the UN Jean-Marc de la Sabliere, Serman left the United States before any trial on the charge of purchasing cocaine.

  Back in Paris, Serman was not punished, but rather continued to work for President Nicolas Sarkozy, on Africa and other issues.

  In July 2010, Serman was sent back to the United States, to become France's General Consul in San Francisco.

Serman gives French award to WWII veteran in Sacramento

  Most recently Serman hosted Sarkozy minister Frederic Mitterrand during a visit to San Francisco where he met, among others, executive of Google, Amazon and Apple, and linked his visit to what he called the Facebook revolution in Egypt.

  Click here for Serman's statements on his Twitter account, here for a video of Serman speaking in Salt Lake City about the education of children.

   Six hours after Inner City Press published Serman's arrest document as part of an investigative story on France's policy and actions regarding its now war torn former colony the Ivory Coast / Cote d'Ivoire, Inner City Press was admonished that the publication, particularly of the arrest record, was gratuitous.

  But several diplomatic sources, including in the US Mission to the UN, whom Inner City Press interviewed prior to publication said that Serman to re-appear in the United States as a French diplomat after he fled the country to escape charges of purchasing cocaine and resisting arrest is problematic.

  It is illegal, one diplomat said, citing a provision of 8 U.S. Code Section 1101 regarding “a failure to appear before a court pursuant to a court order to answer to or dispose of a charge.”

  In this case, the well placed source said, while Serman may have tacitly been allowed to flee the United States as a diplomat, he was “not supposed to come back in, as a diplomat.”

  The source said that when he has been sent to other countries, it has always been vetted by the country to which he was sent, seeking “agreement,” a French diplomatic word meaning consent.

  He noted that this comes at a time when the US is using visa law to block diplomatic status for some at the UN in New York.

  This diplomat wondered whether this is a case in which France falsely did not disclose the previous charge against Serman when he was sent to San Francisco last year, or whether US authorities were “negligent” -- or both.

  Inquiries are being made. Watch this site.

* * *

Leaked French Documents Show Cote d'Ivoire Strategy at UN of France on Liberia, Mali & Even San Francisco

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, April 8, updated -- With Cote d'Ivoire's defiant Laurent Gbagbo surrounded after French and UN military action in Abidjan's Cocody neighborhood, internal French government documents obtained by Inner City Press and published exclusively today paint a picture of France's communications with the UN Mission UNOCI, its analysis of the politics of Guillaume Soro, Liberia and the Malian press, even its recycling of a French diplomat arrested in New York as France's new general consul in San Francisco.

In the first document, France's Force Licorne (Unicorn) wrote to the Special Representative of the Secretary General about Gbagbo's import of heavy weapons. Click here to view. More recently, France is accused of violating the arms embargo by providing and facilitating weapons to the forces of Alassane Ouattara.

The second document is an internal French cable detailing the Financial Organization of the Rebellion, down to a “racket” of shaking down money for taxi licenses.

In the third document, France bemoans the failure of a visit of three African heads of state to Cote d'Ivoire, including Nigeria's Obasanjo and South Africa's Thabo Mbeki now active in Sudan, complaining that this situation can be prolonged until the international community decided to “impose a solution.”

In the fourth document, France analyzed and critiques South African policy toward Cote d'Ivoire and Gbagbo.

In the fifth document, France analyzes Liberia's foreign policy as pro-American. More recently, a purported interview of a Ouattara commander describing coordinating with a French citizen working with the UN Mission in Liberia has surfaced.

In the sixth document, France analyzes the “discrete attitude” of the Malian press.

In the largest set of documents published today -- there are more -- France details its work in the UN Security Council on resolutions concerning the UN mission UNOCI.

One of the French diplomats involved was Romain Serman, who was later arrested by the New York Police Department. See arrest sheet and signed statement, here. Then French Ambassador de la Sabliere, to “avoid a scandal,” sent Serman back to Paris.

But in 2010 he was re-assigned to the US, as general consul in San Francisco. And so it goes.

Update at 1pm, April 8: at the UN noon briefing, Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky to describe how UNOCI has allowed Licorne to lobby it and attend its meetings, and if other countries have been allowed. 

  Nesirky said he would not comment on leaked documents, and also directed Inner City Press to ask the (French) chief of the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations, Alain Le Roy. Watch this site.

Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

* * *

These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

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