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Page last updated at 18:00 GMT, Tuesday, 9 September 2008 19:00 UK

French UN man in child rape trial

UN vehicle in DR Congo
The UN's mission in DR Congo is the biggest in the world

A Frenchman has gone on trial charged with raping around 20 young girls while working for UN peacekeeping missions in Africa along with more sexual offences.

Didier Bourguet told the court in Paris that he had had sex with the girls but said they had consented.

"I admit the sexual relations and the pornography, but I deny rape," he told the court.

Some UN missions have been dogged by sexual abuse claims but this is one of the first cases to make it to court.

Mr Bourguet, 44, worked as a mechanic, fixing UN vehicles, in the Central African Republic between 1998 and 2001 and the Democratic Republic of Congo between 2001 and 2004.

The court was told that a police investigation uncovered paedophile pornography, including images of Mr Bourguet with young girls, on his computer.

His lawyer said he would argue that he had no way of knowing the girls were under-aged.

He has been charged with rape, abuse of minors and possession of pornographic material, and faces up to 20 years in prison if found guilty.

The UN has faced a string of allegations of sexual abuse by its peacekeepers or other staff on its various worldwide missions.

It has listed dozens of alleged cases in the DR Congo mission for investigation.


SEE ALSO
UN looks to DR Congo withdrawal
07 Jun 08 |  Africa
Peacekeepers 'abusing children'
27 May 08 |  Special Reports

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