Victims of French nuclear tests head to UN court

14th February 2007, Comments 0 comments

ALGIERS, Feb 13, 2007 (AFP) - Algerian victims of French nuclear tests will seek compensation through the United Nations' International Court of Justice, the head of the victims' organisation said on Tuesday.

ALGIERS, Feb 13, 2007 (AFP) - Algerian victims of French nuclear tests will seek compensation through the United Nations' International Court of Justice, the head of the victims' organisation said on Tuesday.

"The Algerian victims will lodge a complaint with the International Court of Justice," Sahara Mohamed Abdelhak Bendjebbar announced on the sidelines of a conference that opened here Tuesday morning on the nuclear tests carried out by France in the Sahara in the 1960s.

Bendjebbar, who did not say when the complaint would be filed, claimed the tests had injured some 30,000 Algerians.

Algerian scientists contend that France carried out 17 nuclear tests in the Sahara desert between 1960 and the final withdrawal of French troops from the region in 1967.

France conducted 13 tests in In Iker in Tamanrasset and four in Raggane in Adrar, researchers say."It is the French state's responsibility to recognise its responsibility when it comes to the detrimental consequences of the nuclear tests it carrid out in the Algerian Sahara, which have harmed living beings and the environment in this region," Algerian Minister of Veterans Mohamed Cherif Abbes said as the conference got underway.

He called on France to "open its archives" and to "take responsibility for the victims."

This appeal echoed feelings expressed by French victims of nuclear testing who were also present at the conference.

Patrice Bouveret, head of the French association for nuclear testing victims came out in favour of "revising the French rules that categorise files relating to nuclear tests as 'top secret'."

Among other things, Bouveret said he hoped to press the French parliament to exempt nuclear testing victims from having to prove the link between their illness and their participation in nuclear tests.

Roland Pouira Oldham, head of the Polynesian victims' association, meanwhile came out in favour of a "joint strategy aimed at forcing the French state to acknowledge its mistakes."

Two former French soldiers who completed their tours of duty in Reggane in 1960 and 1961 also called on France to atone for its actions.

"France (should) contribute to taking care of the victims," Gerard Jean-Pierre Ruot said, while George Fontaimpe called on France "to recognise the harm it caused to its sons and to the Algerians, and to compensate them."

Historians, doctors, scientists and lawyers from Algeria, France, Japan, the United States, Australia and Polynesia participated in the conference, which was organised by the ministry of veterans.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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