French Commander Rejects Allegations of Electric Torture during Algerian War
A top French commander during the Algerian war of independence rejected Tuesday a charge he had used electric cables to torture a woman fighting with resistance groups, a report said.
Retired general Marcel Bigeard, now 84, told the regional daily Est Republican "I never practiced electric torture. I did not even know you connected the apparatus to (genital) parts."
"I did clean work, with my heart," he stated in an interview at his home in the eastern French town of Toul.
Bigeard was in charge of French paratroopers during the war, which ended in 1962 with the North African state's independence.
The French daily Le Monde reported on June 20th that a 63-year-old Algerian former guerrilla fighter had accused Bigeard of torture during the conflict.
Earlier this month, Bigeard said torture had been an "evil necessity" during interrogations of people suspected of committing terrorist acts. His comments sparked protests by the French church and local councilors in two towns said road titles named after the general should be changed.
According to the Le Monde article, the Algerian woman was captured on September 28th, 1957 and then tortured by French soldiers with the knowledge of Jacques Massu and Bigeard, both of whom were later became generals.
The report said several pro-independence activists were tortured after a series of bomb attacks on European targets. National Front leader Jean-Marie Le Pen, who was also a French paratrooper, has also been accused of using torture during the conflict.
"I had nothing to do with her, I have never even heard of this girl," who has been identified as Louisette Ighilariz, Bigeard told Est Republican.
"When you did what I did, being accused of torture is like a stab in the back, a bunch of lies, an underhanded plot."
"Why these accusations," he asked. "Because the Algerian president was making an official visit to France."
"I didn't like the police work, but we always interrogated with our conscience and hearts" those who had committed serious acts, he said - PARIS (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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