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France charges soldier accused of sexual abuse in Burkina Faso

Philippe Desmazes, AFP | A French soldier keeps watch while riding an armoured vehicle in Timbuktu as part of the French Army's anti-terrorist operation in the Sahel on June 5, 2015

A French soldier accused of sexually abusing two girls aged three and five in Burkina Faso was charged Friday in Paris, a judicial source told AFP.


The man, 38, was charged for sexually abusing a minor and for recording images of a pornographic nature involving a minor, the source said.

A second soldier who had been detained over the case has been freed without charge.

The two men had been repatriated after being questioned by French and Burkinabe military police in capital Ouagadougou.

Sources close to the Burkina Faso investigation say the two soldiers -- aged 36 and 38 -- met the mother of the youngest girl at the swimming pool on Sunday and were invited to her home for a drink.

One of the two men left behind his GoPro portable camera, on which the mother found the images from the swimming pool which showed the alleged abuse, a source said.

The mother took the "fairly long" film to the French embassy, and it was later seen by the father of the other child.

"There was a soldier who filmed the scene with a camera while the second touched (the girl)," a senior police officer in Burkina Faso told AFP.

France has reacted swiftly to the accusations in stark contrast to another alleged child sex abuse scandal involving French troops in Central African Republic that only came to light after it was leaked to the British press.

Fourteen French soldiers serving as UN peacekeepers in the Central African Republic are facing possible charges of sexual abuse against children after allegations were leaked to The Guardian newspaper in April.

There are about 220 French soldiers stationed in Burkina Faso as part of Operation Barkhane, a counter-terrorism mission launched in August 2014 and covering five regional countries spanning from Mali to Chad.


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