Paris voices concern over Frenchman jailed in Burundi

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France is "extremely concerned" at the trial conditions of a Frenchman sentenced to 25 years in prison in Burundi for rape, a foreign affairs spokesman said Tuesday.

Bernard Valero said France was "concerned about the conditions of the trial" of Patrice Faye, 58, who was sentenced Monday for raping five teenage girls who were students at a school he set up for poor children.

He had denied the charges.

Faye, who was also ordered to pay 14,000 euros ($20,000) in damages to the victims, says he will appeal the decision, according to Valero.

"We are going to remain vigilant and provide support to our compatriot in this next step which is going to happen quickly", said Valero, adding that France would support efforts to give Faye a proper defence lawyer.

The trial had been held behind closed doors in the capital, Bujumbura, since June 16. Prosecutors had sought a 35-year prison term.

Faye was arrested in early April and was detained in a prison in central Bujumbura following accusations by the girls.

In a letter addressed to AFP in May, Faye said a doctor had confirmed that three of his accusers were still virgins and that his principal accuser had signed an apology for "false declarations".

© 2011 AFP

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