Four Ethiopian peacekeepers suspected of sex crimes in Burundi

from Agence France-Presse
Published on 10 Mar 2005
BUJUMBURA, March 10 (AFP) - Burundian authorities are investigating cases of sexual abuse of children allegedly involving four Ethiopian soldiers in a UN peacekeeping force, judicial and UN sources said Thursday.

A deputy public prosecutor at Gitega, in the centre of the central African country, said that two Burundian suspects were in detention in the town on suspicion of selling young girls for sexual favours.

"The enquiry is in hand, but Burundi's judicial services would like to question four Ethiopian UN troops who have been named by these two people, as well as by the four children who were sexually abused," added the legal official, who asked not to be named.

Major Adama Diop, spokesman for the UN mission in Burundi (ONUB) monitoring the country's political transition after a bitter ethnic civil war of 1993-2003, said a UN investigation was also under way.

"You need to know that the United Nations has zero tolerance in this kind of case," Diop told a press conference in Bujumbura. "But before taking any decisions, there has to be a serious investigation to establish guilt."

Asked about progress in the investigation of abuse which allegedly took place at Muyinga, 200 kilometres (125 miles) northeast of Bujumbura, according to a UN statement released in New York on December 17, Diop said "in legal business, things always move slowly."

The sex abuse cases reported in Burundi, where about 50 countries have contributed soldiers to an ONUB force, come after similar charges arising from the alleged misconduct of some UN peacekeepers in the vast Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi's western neighbour.

In January, a leaked UN internal report stated that UN troops had been getting sex with young girls in exchange for eggs, milks or sums of money sometimes amounting to less than a dollar.

esd/bed/nb/g AFP 101814 GMT 03 05

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Received by NewsEdge Insight: 03/10/2005 13:16:31

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