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Last Updated: Saturday, 26 April, 2003, 07:54 GMT 08:54 UK
French general's torture fine upheld
General  Paul Aussaresses
Aussaresses says he has no regrets about what he wrote or did
A French court has upheld the conviction of a retired general for defending the use of torture by French forces during Algeria's war of independence.

The Paris appeals court confirmed that General Paul Aussaresses, 84, must pay a fine of 7,500 euros ($8,300) - the punishment handed down by a criminal court in January last year.

Aussaresses admitted torturing and killing 24 Algerian prisoners-of-war in a book he published in 2001 about the conflict.

The general criticised the latest ruling and vowed to continue the legal challenge against his conviction.

The appeals court said that throughout the book, Special Services, Algeria 1955-1957, Aussaresses "repeatedly justifies torture and summary executions".

Under the terms of a post-war amnesty, the general could not be tried for war crimes, and human rights groups campaigned for prosecution on a charge of being an apologist for war crimes.

A bomb attack in Algiers, 1956
Atrocities were committed by all sides in the Algerian war
The appeals court also upheld fine of 15,000 euros ($16,600 dollars) against two of Aussaresses' publishers, for "failing to distance themselves" from the contents of the book.

Aussaresses said Friday's ruling was "stupid". He added that he had "neither remorse nor regrets" and would appeal to France's highest criminal court.

The decision was welcomed by the French anti-racism group MRAP - which helped bring the case against Aussaresses.

"It's a victory that is a credit to France," a MRAP spokesman said.

Stripped of honour

In the book Aussaresses says torture can be a legitimate way of extracting information.

The Algerian war of independence of 1954-1962 was a brutal conflict in which both sides are known to have committed atrocities.

But the general's account was the first by a senior French officer which admitted that the use of torture was commonplace.

Aussaresses also says that the government of the day was not only aware of the atrocities, but also approved them.

He said late French President Francois Mitterrand, who was then justice minister, received daily updates by telephone from another general.

Aussaresses, a one-eyed hero of the resistance against the Nazis, was stripped of his Legion d'Honneur - one of France's top merit awards - after the book appeared.




SEE ALSO:
France plans Algeria memorial
07 Feb 01  |  Europe
Timeline: Algeria
03 Mar 03  |  Country profiles



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