Ex-UN employee on trial for raping African girls

10th September 2008, Comments 0 comments

A 44-year-old Frenchman is accused of raping 20 African girls aged between 12 and 17 while being employed by the United Nations.

10 September 2008

PARIS -- A former mechanic employed by the United Nations in two African countries went on trial in Paris on Tuesday, accused of raping some 20 African girls aged between 12 and 17.

Didier Bourguet, a 44-year-old French national, worked for UN peacekeeping missions in Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo between 1998 and 2004. He carried out maintenance work on UN vehicles.

Charged with rape, abuse of minors and possession of pornographic material, Bourguet faces a possible sentence of 20 years in prison, said the presiding judge.

Prosecutors told the court that Bourguet sought out girls through go-betweens during his postings in the Central African Republic from 1998 to 2001 and in DR Congo from 2001 to 2004.

Questioned by the judge, Bourguet admitted on Tuesday that he had paid to have sex with girls aged between 12 and 17, but insisted they had given their consent.

"I realised after that they could have been subjected to pressure because of financial interests," he said. "I had lost all sense of reality."

One of the victims, a Congolese girl now aged 16 and living in Canada, told the court she had been abused after being served a cup of tea that had made her dizzy.

Bourguet was accused of having demanded oral sex from her, which he strongly denied.

A police officer who questioned Bourguet testified that he told her he engaged in sexual acts with about 24 girls between the ages of 12 and 18, paying between USD 10 and USD 20 (EUR 7 to EUR 14) each time.

Asked by the judge why Bourguet chose minors instead of prostitutes, the police officer, Nathalie Freund, said: "He said that prostitutes only pretended while minors were fully involved in the act."

According to the officer, Bourguet had said he was happy to have been arrested since he was worried about his growing attraction to young Africans.

He is alleged to have told investigators: "Over there, the colonial spirit persists. The white man gets what he wants."

DR Congo police arrested Bourguet in the eastern city of Goma in October 2004 and turned him over to French authorities.

The lawyer for the young Congolese victim - the only one to testify at the trial - called the case "symbolic".

Emmanuel Daoud alleged between 15,000 and 20,000 rapes are committed each year in the DR Congo by soldiers, rebels and, sometimes, UN personnel.

[AFP / Expatica]

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