Documentary accuses French troops of 'torture' in DRCongo

3rd April 2008, Comments 0 comments

Swedish public television on Wednesday aired a documentary accusing French soldiers of torturing a militia member in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

   STOCKHOLM, April 3, 2008 - Swedish public television on Wednesday
aired a documentary accusing French soldiers of torturing a militia member in
the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2003 as Swedish soldiers looked on.
   The alleged incident took place on July 13, 2003, when French and Swedish
troops were deployed side-by-side as part of the European Union's Artemis
military operation near the northeastern city of Bunia.
   Excerpts from the documentary were broadcast last week by Swedish public
service channel SVT1 and on Tuesday the French military's high command
announced it had ordered a probe into the incident.
   In "Joseph's Fate", made by three Swedish journalists, several Swedish
soldiers criticised their superiors' passivity and the French troops' violence.
   AFP was able to view the documentary before it aired on the investigative
news programme Uppdrag Granskning Wednesday evening.
   The Swedish soldiers who were interviewed were never shown on screen and
their identities were not disclosed.
   The militia member, identified as Joseph and aged between 17 and 20, was
captured outside the French-Swedish camp, the report said. French soldiers
placed a noose around his neck and pushed him around with sticks, it added.
   His hands were tied behind his back, his head was covered, and he was
wearing only his underwear. He was interrogated for six to eight hours, during
which the Swedish soldiers heard him screaming, according to the documentary.
   The man was last seen by the Swedish soldiers when he was placed onboard a
truck. The makers of the documentary were unable to locate him.
   "We heard tormented screaming from the prisoner the whole time. It was a
person who was being made to suffer, tortured," one of the Swedish soldiers
said.
   Electrical equipment was used during the interrogation, the documentary
claimed.
   The Swedish soldiers present allegedly reported the incident to their
superior officers. The case was brought to the attention of the highest ranks
in the Swedish military but was kept quiet, the documentary alleged.
   A spokesman for the French defence ministry, Laurent Teisseire, told AFP on
Tuesday that "the Swedes conveyed this information to French authorities in
the summer of 2007.
   "Two military investigations have been conducted, one by the French and the
other by the Swedes."
   The initial French probe did not "corroborate the allegations" by the
Swedish soldiers, while the Swedish investigation "turned up very
contradictory results," Teisseire said.

AFP 

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