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Thursday, 22 November, 2001, 20:00 GMT
Algerian 'war victim' compensated
Algerian capital of Algiers
Algeria and France are dealing with their fraught past
A court in France has awarded compensation to an Algerian man conceived when his mother was raped by French soldiers during the Algerian war of independence.

Mohamed Garne's mother, Kheira, was 16 when she gave birth to her son after her rape in a French detention camp for Algerian citizens.

She made the allegations in a 1994 court appearance. But, in 1998, a court rejected Mr Garne's request for reparation from the French Government.

I've been recognised as the first war victim of the Algerian war

Mohamed Garne
On Thursday the court recognised that Mr Garne's mother had been repeatedly beaten during her detention and awarded him a three year partial invalidity pension for his claims of serious psychological suffering as a result of his mother's mistreatment.

The defence ministry had argued that compensation could only be awarded for physical injuries and not for psychological trauma.

"I've been recognised as the first war victim of the Algerian war," he said as he left the court in the French capital.

"I'm happy for myself and for others who could come forward."

Facing the past

The ruling comes as France is being increasingly forced to re-examine its role in the eight year war which led to Algeria's independence.

Former French General Paul Aussaresses
General Aussaresses: Admits to ordering the torture and execution of Algerian citizens

Former French General Paul Aussaresses is due to face trial on Monday following a suit filed by France's League of Human Rights.

General Aussaresses was stripped of his Legion of Honour award by President Jacques Chirac in June this year after he published a book in which he admitted to ordering the torture and execution of Algerian citizens during the brutal war.

France has never formally acknowledged that it took part in atrocities, although it has long been thought that such crimes were widespread on both sides.

'Unspeakable acts'

The French court firmly rejected other arguments that would have given Mr Garne a full pension, and it took pains to make clear that it did not feel the decision to be one with potential historical repercussions.

"The court's role is not to write history or comment on controversies that history generates decades later," it said.

Nonetheless it acknowledged that "unspeakable acts" had taken place on both sides.

See also:

13 Feb 01 | Middle East
France hails ties with Algeria
04 Oct 01 | Middle East
Algeria's Berbers get language rights
19 Jun 01 | Middle East
Rising tide of Berber unrest
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