Court probes rape case against French UN worker
PARIS, Feb 4 (AFP) - A Frenchman who is one of 20 UN staff accused of sexually abusing women and girls while working for a peacekeeping mission in Democratic Republic of Congo is to have the allegations against him examined by a Paris court Friday, French radio reported.
The man, aged in his 40s and identified only as Didier B., is alleged to have had sex with Congolese girls younger than 15 and to have kept pornography on his computer while holding a post as a civilian employee in the UN mission’s equipment repair workshop in the city of Goma, the France Info station said.
The Paris appeals court was to evaluate the validity of the charges against Didier B., who has been in French police custody since October 31 last year, when he returned to Paris after being ordered to leave the DR Congo, where he had spent several years.
He and 19 UN peacekeeping soldiers were singled out in a UN internal investigation which last month reported that the allegations of sexual abuse were “serious and ongoing”.
It said the cases against the 20 were sufficiently detailed to be legally actionable – including several incidents in which UN peacekeepers allegedly exchanged food or small amounts of money for sex with underage girls – after probing 72 cases of alleged abuse.
UN sources close to the case said the 19 UN peacekeepers came from Uruguay, Pakistan, Nepal, Morocco, Tunisia and South Africa.
The world body is unable to prosecute the staff itself, but has urged the countries of the nationals involved to do so. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said the allegations were “shameful” and has expressed outrage.
The UN investigation was carried out in Bunia, Ituri, in the northeast of the DR Congo from May to September 2004 after local media reports brought the allegations to light.
The peacekeeping mission there, known as MONUC, is currently the biggest UN operation in the world, with 47 countries contributing to its 15,000-strong force which was set up to help the vast DR Congo emerge from a five-year war that claimed at least 2.5 million lives between 1998 and 2003.
Pernod Ricard shares slip on report of UK bid
PARIS, Feb 4 (AFP) – The price of shares in French drinks and spirits group Pernod Ricard slipped in early trading on Friday on a press report suggesting that the company might bid for Allied Domecq of Britain.
Pernod Ricard shares were showing a loss of 0.94 percent to EUR 105.40.
The French market as measured by the CAC 40 index had gained 0.30 percent to 3,940.82 points.
The Wall Street Journal newspaper had reported on Friday that Pernod Ricard was considering a takeover bid for Allied Domecq which owns the Beefeater gin and Stolichnaya vodka brands.
However, the two companies were not holding talks, the newspaper said, on the basis of sources close to the matter.
A spokesman for Allied Domecq told the newspaper that the suggestion was “speculation” and Pernod Ricard declined to comment.
Subject: French News