4 June 2016

Central African Republic: Five French Soldiers Suspended in Abuse Case

Photo: Ministère de la Défense Française
French soldiers in CAR.

The French military has started disciplinary proceedings against five soldiers for alleged physical abuse of two citizens of the Central African Republic (CAR), where France has had a peacekeeping force since 2013. The defence ministry says the army will hand the findings of its inquiry over to a judge as soon as it is asked to.

Five soldiers, one of them an officer, have been suspended from the French army after accusations that they seriously physically abused two Central Africans at a military post in the capital Bangui in 2014, according to Ouest France newspaper.

"In view of the gravity of the facts, the five soldiers have been suspended," the ministry said. "At the same time disciplinary action has been launched ... as a precursor to their eviction from the military."

The soldiers are from the second marine infantry division, based at Avours near Le Mans in western France.

Their senior officer reported the case, which could lead to charges of attempted murder according to a source cited by Ouest France, on 28 April.

Four other soldiers have been punished for not reporting the alleged abuse.

There are currently three investigations under way into allegations that French troops in the country sexually abused children but the latest case does not relate to sexual acts, a ministry source said, without giving further details.

France sent troops to the CAR in 2013, when it was hit by massive sectarian violence.

Its force has been reduced from 2,500 to 650 and is due to be phased out by December this year.

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