Home Muslim World News Families of French soldiers killed in Afghanistan to sue officers

Families of French soldiers killed in Afghanistan to sue officers


Paris : The families of two of nine French soldiers killed last year in an ambush in Afghanistan are suing their commanding officers for reckless endangerment, the daily Le Parisien reported Thursday.

The lawyer for the two families, Gilbert Collard, told France Info radio that the suit was not directed at the army itself, but at specific senior officers.

In an interview published in Le Parisien, Joel Le Pahun, the father of one of the soldiers killed, said the suit “targets individuals who did not, in our opinion, act responsibly… We suspect the existence of a series of failures in the chain of command.”

This is the first-ever lawsuit of this kind in French judicial history. Collard said it will be filed Monday at the Military Tribunal in Paris.

The two soldiers, 19-year-old Julien Le Pahun and Rodolphe Penon, 40, were killed Aug 19, 2008, in the Uzbin Valley in eastern Afghanistan when their International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) column was ambushed by a large group of Taliban and other rebel fighters.

Nine French soldiers were killed and 18 wounded in the battle, the largest loss of life the French army suffered since the 1983 Beirut barracks bombing, in which 58 soldiers died.

A NATO report on the incident concluded that the surviving ISAF soldiers had been “lucky to escape” since they were poorly equipped and badly organised. But this was denied by the French government.

A recent British media report claimed that the French officers had been over-confident because they did not know that the calm in the region was the result of bribes paid by the Italian secret services to local warlords and Taliban commanders when the Italians were in charge of the area.

According to the story published in the Times, Western officials said that the French made a “catastrophically incorrect” threat assessment because they had not known about the payments.