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French authorities open formal judicial inquiry into alleged sexual abuse of children committed by its troops in Central African Republic

The abuse case - allegedly by French troops sent to protect civilians from sectarian violence - was made public last week

Agencies
Thursday 07 May 2015 14:49 BST
French troops patrol in a street of the Muslim PK-5 district in Bangui
French troops patrol in a street of the Muslim PK-5 district in Bangui (AFP/Getty Images)

French authorities have opened a formal judicial inquiry into alleged sexual abuse of children by French troops in the Central African Republic.

The move hands the investigation to independent judges instead of the Paris prosecutor's office, in an acknowledgement of the seriousness and complexity of the accusations, amid international dismay surrounding the case.

After the French defence ministry was informed of the rape accusations last summer, the Paris prosecutor opened a preliminary investigation.

The case was made public only last week, more than nine months later, following a report in the Guardian.

French authorities decided to upgrade the investigation to a judicial inquiry led by independent magistrates, the prosecutor's office said.

The troops accused of abuses were sent to the Central African Republic to protect civilians from sectarian violence.

Agencies

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