Time: Tue Jun 24 10:52:11 1997
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Date: Tue, 24 Jun 1997 10:51:47 -0700
To: (Recipient list suppressed)
From: Paul Andrew Mitchell [address in tool bar]
Subject: SLS: Belgian UN troops admit to 'roasting' Somali boy (fwd)

>        Belgian UN troops admit to 'roasting' Somali boy
>        by Robert Fox and AFP 
>TWO Belgian paratroopers who were photographed "roasting" a Somali boy 
>over a flaming brazier are expected to be jailed for only a month and 
>fined #200 after admitting the atrocity in a military court in Brussels 
>Privates Claude Baert and Kurt Coelus faced a maximum of a year in jail 
>but the prosecutor demanded only a month. Sentence will be passed on 
>Monday. The case against a third soldier accused of atrocities during 
>the United Nations "Restore Hope" mission three years ago was adjourned 
>until September.
>Sgt Dirk Nassel is accused of forcing a young Somali to eat pork, drink 
>salt water, and then eat his vomit. The three soldiers were charged with 
>assault and threatening behaviour.
>A fourth member of the 3rd battalion of the Parachute Regiment, based at 
>Tielen in Flanders, is also due to go on trial in September. Sergeant 
>Major Rudy Derkinderen is suspected of having murdered a Somali whom he 
>was photographed urinating on.
>The circumstances surrounding the death of another child at the 
>paratroopers' base near Kismayo in southern Somalia are also under 
>investigation. According to the testimony of two former paratroopers, 
>the boy, who had been caught trying to steal food, died after being 
>locked in a container for 48 hours.
>The Defence Minister, Jean-Pol Poncelet, has promised that any of the 
>paratroopers found guilty of criminal acts in Somalia will be 
>dishonourably discharged. Baert has already left the army but Coelus is 
>now in the navy and Nassel has remained at Tielen.
>Mr Poncelet has also ordered an inquiry to establish whether the 
>incidents were part of a broader pattern of abuse of the local 
>population. If it is, he has promised to disband the 3rd battalion.
>Fifteen members of the regiment were investigated in 1995 for "acts of 
>sadism and torture" against Somalian civilians.
>One paratrooper has been sentenced to five years, following the murder 
>of a Somalian youth, who allegedly had uncovered illegal arms trading by 
>the paratroopers. Belgium is the third country involved in the "Restore 
>Hope" mission to charge its soldiers for serious misdemeanours against 
>Somalian civilians, including rape, torture and murder. In 1995 a group 
>of Canadian paratroopers were investigated for torturing a Somali to 
>death and killing three others.
>The charges of indiscipline, racism, and the rituals for new members of 
>the unit led to the Canadian Airborne Regiment being disbanded last 
>year. Earlier this month gruesome photographs were published in a Milan 
>magazine of Italian soldiers torturing a young Somali youth, and abusing 
>and raping a young Somali girl. Two Italian generals involved in 
>"Restore Hope" have subsequently resigned to clear the way for a major 
>investigation of the unit involved, the Folgore (Lightning) Division 
>currently deployed on peacekeeping duties in Albania.
>The Italian parliament has set up a major investigation and boards of 
>inquiry of the Italian army are at work. Paratroopers of the Folgore 
>claim that they were specifically trained in methods of torture to aid 
>interrogation. According to one witness Italian soldiers tied a young 
>Somali girl to the front of a armoured carrier and raped her while 
>officers looked on.
>The witness told investigators: "When the officers wanted to have fun, 
>everybody went along with it."
>Over the weekend an interpreter with the Italian force in Somalia 
>accused a Folgore battalion commander of sexually abusing a 13-year-old 
>Somali youth. The "Restore Hope" mission has become the most 
>controversial of all recent peacekeeping operations undertaken under the 
>UN banner. It was mandated in 1992 to provide medical aid and food after 
>civil order in Somalia collapsed following the overthrow of the Marxist 
>dictator Maj Gen Muhammad Siad Barri, after a 17-year civil war.
>The operation was directed by an American admiral, and spearheaded by 
>American Marines. After the murder of 20 Pakistani soldiers in an ambush 
>and the killing and dragging of two American Marines through the streets 
>of Mogadishu, the American command moved from peacekeeping to offensive 
>operations against the warlords running the main Somali cities, 
>principally Mogadishu and Kismayo.
>Though they used helicopter gunships and area bombardment, the Americans 
>failed to defeat the leading warlord, Gen Muhammad Farrah Aidid, and 
>eventually the UN forces were ordered to withdraw. A common thread 
>through the accusations against the Belgian, Italian and Canadian 
>forces, is the racism of elite units, particularly airborne units, and 
>their inability to adapt to low-intensity peacekeeping operations.
>Last week an Italian paratrooper said: "What's the big deal? They are 
>just niggers anyway."
>The head of the UN's peacekeeping department, Under Secretary General 
>Bernard Miyet, said: "The image of the United Nations has been 
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Paul Andrew Mitchell                 : Counselor at Law, federal witness
B.A., Political Science, UCLA;  M.S., Public Administration, U.C. Irvine

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