Deeply embittered and determined to try and wreck French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing's chances in Sunday's election, deposed Central African Emperor Jean-Bokassa has detailed an involved personal relationship he had with Giscard and charged that its disintegration led to Bokassa's ouster by French troops in 1979.
In an exclusive interview with The Washington Post that took place in his Ivory Coast exile, Bokassa told of extensive personal ties with Giscard and his family that ranged from gifts of a 3,000-square-mile hunting preserve and diamonds far larger than Giscard has admitted accepting to intimate socializing in France and Africa unmatched in Bokassa's relations with other French ministers and heads of state.
Bokassa also charged that after his personal relations with Giscard and his family went awry, Giscard personally pressured a special commission of five African jurists to issue a judgment that it was "almost certain" that Bokassa had taken part in a massacre of schoolchildren, paving the way for the French intervention.
Bokassa made this allegation and elaborated on previous charges that he has leveled against Giscard in interviews during the second week of April. A number of allegations that could not be substantiated by four weeks of checking are not reproduced here. Inquiries by this correspondent into Bokassa's allegations, completed only this week, produced no startling new disclosures that could be proven, but did provide a fuller picture of Bokassa's version of the ties between the two men. His version has been vehemently denied by Giscard.
Even without evidence that he participated in the killing of children, Bokassa established a record of strange and often cruel behavior that made him a figure of ridicule and a symbol ov evil among his fellow African rulers. As his excesses became more flagrant, withdrew its all-important support for reasons that Giscard has maintained were humanitarian, but which Bokassa asserts were pretty and vindictive.
The interview was the first face-to-face encounter with a journalist since Bokassa was overthrown in September 1979 by a force of French paratroopers. At least two French journalists were expelled from the Ivory Coast when they sought to approach Bokassa. Members of the former self-styled emperor's family agreed to arrange an interview at the request of this correspondent.
Bokassa admitted without prodding during the six hours of interviews -- 4 1/2 hours of which are on tape -- held over two days that his reason for granting the interview now was to try to influence the outcome of Giscard's extremely tight race for reelection. "I'm dealing with one who made me fall," Bokassa said in discussing his gifts of diamonds to Giscard.
The gifts of diamonds, which were revealed shortly after the emperor's overthrow, had been expected to emerge as a major handicap for Giscard in his effort to win a second seven-year term. However, Giscard managed to refuse the issue to a large extent last fall and the gifts have not emerged as a primary issue in the past months, despite suggestions by a French weekly newspaper and a recent book that Giscard received more in diamonds than he has formally conceeded.
Reporting based on Bokassa's allegations does suggest that Giscard's payment of $8,000 to the Central African Red Cross for the diamonds he and his wife received as gifts from Bokassa could have covered only a small portion of their value at the time they were received.
Bokassa asserted that there were four occasions in eight years when Giscard received diamonds in the presence of witnesses. On a fifth and final occasion, when the then-emperor presented diamonds before a large number of people to Giscard's wife Anne-Aymone, in the fall of 1978, she received 12 parcels of stones accroding to a Central African imperial gifts register that Bokassa read to French journalist Roger Delpey.
New York diamond merchant Albert Jolis, head of the American company that managed the Central African diamond-cutting facility as a joint enterprise with the Central African government, said in an interview here that such special presentation parcels would ordinarily have been worth $5,000 to $10,000 each.
Giscard said in March that the diamonds he received from Bokassa were nothing more than tiny stones, "more useful decoratively in jewelry" than "large stones of great value." But Bokassa claimed he had given Giscard far larger and more valuable stones of 10 and 20 carats.
Jolis said that diamonds of that size would not have come from his company. But he added: "It's possible he gave some. Bokassa had diamonds of his own."
Bokassa said he gave the Giscard family far more diamonds than anyone else, but refused to name others who had gotten gems. "I spoiled them. They are spoiled," he said of the Giscards.
The gifts others got were "small symbolic remittances of little value," he said. But the Bokassa, 60, remarked taht he is not, after all, a diamond expert and his memory is not what it used to be.
Bokassa provided no conclusive evidence to support his contention that he was the victim of a French government-orchestrated campaign designed to pave the way for his overthrow. But his account raised serious and still unanswered questions about the way in which he was judged, in essence, to have taken part in the killing of schoolchildren.
An Elysee spokesman, Jean-Marie Poirier, refused to comment about Bokassa's charge of tampering with the special commission's conclusions on the child massacres.
Former Senegalese President Leopold Senghor said in a taped interview with French journalist Mireille Duteil that the massacre-investigating commission presided over by a Senegalese judge had in fact found "no irrefutable evidence" against Bokassa. Duteil offered the interview to a French magazine that she asked not be named; the magazine declined to publish the interview, which Duteil made available to The Post.
A Giscard spokesman said the French president had ordered that France keep its distance from the investigation of the massacre but that Paris was regularly informed of its progress by Senghor.
Bokassa contended in last month's interviews that members of the commission met with Giscard and the French president's African Affairs adviser, the late Rene Journiac, in Paris. The Senegalese president of the commission, Judge Youssoupha Ndiaye, told The Post that he had not gone to Paris. But the Ivory Coast member, deputy public prosecutor Tia Kone, insisted that the whole commission had gone to the French capital to take testimony.
The Ivory Coast official said it had not been "opportune" for the commission to meet with French officials, but he refused to say whether that meant there had been no such meetings. Journiac's son Philippe said he was aware of a number of telephone conversations his father had with commission members, including the president, but he was vague about whether they were before or after it had finished writing the report.
Bokassa also described the contents of a number of letters he had received from Giscard and Journiac. He said the letters were among 187 documents he had given before his overthrow to Roger Delpey to form the basis of a book defending his rule. Delpey published the book without any of the documents after alleging that French secret services tracked down the Swiss lawyer to whom they were given to safekeeping and threatened his life if they were released.
Bokassa said that the letters included thank-you notes for all the gifts he had given Giscard, a letter in which the French president said that he had called French newspapers to ask them to stop publishing hostile stories about Bokassa and lengthy correspondence in which both Journiac and Giscard complained because the Central African ruler would not provide soldiers to patrol against elephant poachers a huge, personal hunting ground Bokassa had given to the French leader at the request of his first cousin Francois Giscard d'Estaing, who was engaged in business ventures in Central Africa.