France probes torture claims against its troops in DR Congo

3rd April 2008, Comments 0 comments

French military's high command has ordered a probe into allegations by Swedish soldiers that French troops "tortured" a militia member in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2003.

   PARIS, April 3, 2008 - The French military's high command has ordered
a probe into allegations by Swedish soldiers that French troops "tortured" a
militia member in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2003, a spokesman for
the defence ministry said.
   According to extracts of a documentary broadcast ahead of its scheduled
airing on Swedish public television SVT Wednesday evening, French soldiers
"tortured" a young Congolese militia member in July 2003.
   French and Swedish troops were at the time deployed side-by-side as part of
the European Union's Artemis military operation near the northeastern city of
Bunia.
   "The Swedes conveyed this information to French authorities in the summer
of 2007," French defence ministry spokesman Laurent Teisseire said Tuesday,
adding that "two military investigations have been conducted, one by the
French and the other by the Swedes."
   Investigators from both countries had met at the military high command
headquarters in Paris on Monday, he said, adding that "the elements gathered
by the two sides were not completely in line."
   The initial French probe did not "corroborate the allegations" by the
Swedish soldiers, while the Swedish investigation "turned up very
contradictory results," Teisseire said.
   French army chief of staff, General Jean-Louis Georgelin, had therefore
determined that an "in-depth investigation" was in order, he said.
   According to the Swedish documentary, the Congolese militia man, who was
arrested on July 13, 2003, was brutally abused, had had a rope placed around
his neck and he was pushed around with sticks.
   The report maintains the Swedish soldiers were passive witnesses to the
torture.
   One Swedish soldier, whose name was not given, said: "The prisoner was
suffocating and being strangled each time he stumbled."
   Swedish defence ministry spokesman Roger Magneraad told SVT that during the
interrogation of the prisoner "torture-like methods were used. The Swedish
soldiers saw this and acted to make it stop."
   According to Teisseire, the Congolese man had been released several hours
after he was first brought to the European military camp in the middle of the
night.

AFP 

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