Togolese journalist vows to sue French military officer

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A Togolese press photographer threatened by a senior French military officer at the end of a protest this week in Lome, told AFP on Friday that he has decided to seek judicial redress.

"What I know is that I will file a suit against him in the court," said Komi Agbedivlo, better known by his pen name as Didier Ledoux, who works for Togolese weekly Liberte, one of the main private newspapers in the country.

Lieutenant Colonel Romuald Letondot has been recalled from Togo to France and punished for "bringing the French army into disrepute", foreign ministry spokeswoman Christine Fages told reporters Friday.

Letondot has apologised to the journalist but the video has been viewed more than 500,000 times on YouTube ( and the scandal has tarnished France's image in Africa.

The officer, who was employed by the French foreign ministry as an advisor to the Togolese military, is seen in the video footage telling Ledoux to erase pictures from his camera and ordering Togolese riot police to arrest him.

"Do you want someone to strike your camera, or what?" he demands. "I don't give a damn if you're press, erase the photo please, otherwise I'll take the camera myself.

"Do you know who I am? I'm an adviser to the chief of staff of land forces," he declares, threatening to summon the Togolese president's commando guard force "to bloody well restore some order round here."

Ledoux said he was "shocked" at a claim by Letondot that he was "rather the victim in the affair," alleging in an interview carried Thursday on the Internet site of the French weekly L'Express that he had been "set up."

"I am very angry at the officer because his attitude greatly surprised me. It is not what he said at the embassy that I found in the interview," he said, slamming what he called the "hypocrisy" of the colonel.

The Paris-based global media rights watchdog Reporters Without Borders condemned Letondot's attitude, which it said reflected a too common "lack of respect and understanding of the work of the press."

© 2010 AFP

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