FRENCH TROOPS IN IVORY COAST CONVICTED OF BANK ROBBERY 2005-06-22 05:16 (New York)
Nairobi (dpa) – Twelve French troops were convicted in a Paris military court of stealing cash last year from an Ivory Coast bank they supposedly were protecting, the Ivorian daily Fraternite reported Wednesday. The troops stole about 400,000 dollars from the bank in the rebel-held town of Man in the country’s northwest.
They were part of a 4,000-strong French force sent to monitor a fragile ceasefire between Ivorian troops and rebels, whose 2002 uprising virtually split the country in half.
Eight of them were sentenced to a year in prison, and four others were sentenced up to eight months. The soldiers allegedly devised a plan to rob the bank when they noticed one of the bank’s security walls had been damaged, the newspaper reported.
In a separate incident, six other French peacekeepers are expected to stand trial later this year for allegedly stealing nearly 20,000 dollars in African Financial Community (CFA) francs from a bank in the rebel’s northern stronghold of Bouake.
The incidents have undermined France’s efforts to broker peace in Ivory Coast, a former French colony.