French recruits 'sexually abused'

FOUR NCOs in the French marines have been arrested after claims that they used violence and sexual abuse during commando training.

Two recruits from the 21st Marine Infantry Regiment based in the Mediterranean port of Frejus, where Francois Leotard, the conservative Defence Minister, is mayor, have committed suicide this year. The Defence Ministry said last week that 'reprehensible acts' had occurred during the eight-week training period for recruits, all professional soldiers.

Before leaving Frejus with just over half of the regiment's 1,500 men last month to join the United Nations force in Bosnia, Lieutenant-Colonel Philippe Tracqui, its commanding officer, and 18 marines lodged complaints against a sergeant and three corporals at the local gendarmerie. The NCOs, who have not been named, were placed in detention for 40 days pending investigations.

The allegations came to a head after Pascal Ciman, a marine from Metz, shot himself dead on a Frejus beach on 2 July. Another soldier attempted suicide, while a third, Didier Boucher, a 19-year-old who did not serve with the NCOs now under arrest, killed himself on 31 March.

While official statements talked of brutality during what the military public-relations service called 'a virile training somewhat like rugby', parents of recruits have alleged that their sons suffered sexual abuse ranging from burning their pubic hair with cigarette lighters to sodomy. They said the NCOs hurled abuse at the young men, including racist insults. A marine of Tunisian origin deserted and fled to his home country, parents told the French press.

The most detailed information about alleged violence in the regiment has come from the parents of Didier Boucher, the recruit who killed himself in March. His father, Lucien, a retired and professional soldier himself, said the young man hurt an ankle one week into his training. Despite complaining of pain, medical officers waited for three days before giving him an X-ray examination.

Mr Boucher, who said the young men were 'left to warrant officers, sergeants and corporals who spread terror without any control by officers', said his son was accused of malingering by NCOs who are alleged to have beaten him with sticks and kicked his ankle.

An aunt in Marseilles noticed when he visited her that Didier had a swollen hand. He blamed it on beatings. He also alleged that an NCO had put a smoke grenade on another recruit's stomach and had removed the pin. The resulting burns put the recruit in hospital for skin grafts; the NCO's punishment was a reprimand, he said.

In March, after he asked for a discharge, Boucher shot himself with a pistol. When the family complained to the Defence Ministry, a lieutenant replied in writing that 'realising he could achieve nothing in the army, Didier took refuge in alcohol, drugs and lies'.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive + incentives + uncapped comms: SThree:...

Ashdown Group: Reporting & Analytics Supervisor - Buckinghamshire - £36,000

£34000 - £36000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Analytics & Reporting Tea...

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Developer

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a world leader ...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

£13000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to be part of a ...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future