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'.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Selby Jennings: Leveraged Finance - Senior Associate - International Bank - Frankfurt

Competitive + bonus: Selby Jennings: My client, a growing European CIB are loo...

Savvy Media Ltd: Media Sales executive - Crawley

£25k + commission + benefits: Savvy Media Ltd: Find a job you love and never h...

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Solicitor NQ+ Oxford

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: CORPORATE - Corporate Solicitor NQ+ An excelle...

Reach Volunteering: Financial Trustee and Company Secretary

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...

Day In a Page

In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible