Tuesday, January 3, 2017

French Soldiers Accused Of Rape In Central African Republic: No Indictment

The French judges have completed their investigations into the charges of rape on minors worn in 2014 by soldiers of the Sangaris force that were deployed in the Central African Republic, but the investigation did not lead to any indictment.

Two other investigations, also concerning allegations of sexual abuse allegedly committed by French soldiers deployed in the country, were opened simultaneously under the authority of the Paris public prosecutor's office: one was closed on 25 November And the other is still in progress, said Tuesday the source of justice.

In the judicial investigation, the investigations ended on 20 December, opening a three-month period during which the parties may request further investigative acts before the Paris prosecutor's office and a final decision of the judges. But for lack of indictments, the case could be moved to a non-place.

Since May 2015, three investigating judges have been investigating allegations of rape in the M'Poko displaced camp near Bangui airport between December 2013 and June 2014, initially targeting 14 French soldiers.

The Sangaris force, which was not under UN command, was deployed since December 2013 to restore security in the country, which was plagued by chaos, sexual violence and massacres between the Christian and Muslim communities. The French operation ended in October.

The case remained secret until the British newspaper The Guardian revealed at the end of April 2015 the existence of a UN confidential note containing the accusations of CAR children reporting sexual abuse in exchange for food or Small sums of money.

Informed as early as July 2014, the French Ministry of Defense had seized the Paris public prosecutor's office, which had initiated a preliminary investigation before handing over a judicial investigation to investigating judges.

A complex investigation

In this delicate matter, the magistrates and the gendarmerie provost, charged with investigating crimes and misdemeanors committed by soldiers during external operations, were unable to corroborate materially the charges against the soldiers after two and a half years. Investigations, according to a source close to the investigation.

The judges traveled to the Central African Republic in July 2015 and in the summer of 2016, notably to gather testimonies from a dozen children, a complex work as variations have appeared in some versions.

The UN memo reported six witnesses, four children claiming to be victims and two witnesses of fact. But other children have since been identified and those who call themselves witnesses have subsequently declared themselves victims, according to the source close to the investigation.

Six soldiers identified as potential abusers of the children were heard but none were charged. They said they gave food rations, but denied any sexual abuse.

Since this first case, other accusations had been made against French soldiers. The closed-ended investigation concerned the case of a girl who said she had been raped in the summer of 2014 before referring to an unprotected report.

The Paris prosecutor's office is continuing its investigations in a preliminary investigation opened last April after a UN report on suspicion of sexual assault on three minors, between 2013 and 2015 in D├ękoa (center).

The information site Mediapart published Tuesday an investigation under the title "The unpunished exactions of Operation Sangaris" by reporting several testimonies of victims who say they have suffered sexual abuse by the French military.

Against a backdrop of heavy suspicions of sexual abuse of foreign military personnel based in this very poor country ravaged by conflict, other accusations were made against UN peacekeepers in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) . A UN investigation recently identified 41 Gabonese or Burundian peacekeepers serving in Minusca suspected of having committed sexual assaults in Kemo prefecture (center) in 2014 and 2015.

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