Jospin Rules Out Official ‘Repentance’ for French Torture in Algeria
French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin on Saturday ruled out an official French apology over the issue of torture committed by French troops during the Algerian war of independence.
Speaking at the Socialist party congress in Grenoble, southeastern France, Jospin confirmed his opposition to setting up an official commission of Enquirer into the use of torture during the 1954-1962 war as communist deputies had earlier demanded.
"Torture in Algeria, and the executions that may have taken place during that colonial conflict, do not call for an act of collective repentance but for a search for the truth," he said.
Though free political debate on the issue was necessary, "I do not think that it is for collective political bodies to do this work," he said.
The admissions by two top generals that the French army had routinely tortured suspects during the 1954-62 Algerian conflict triggered demands for an official apology for illegal acts of war committed by the French army.
General Paul Aussaresses, 82, confessed in an interview with the French daily Le Monde Thursday that he had personally executed 24 insurgents during the Algerian independence struggle.
And General Jacques Massu, 92, a former military commander in Algiers who has admitted that the use of torture was systematic at the time, said Thursday that "it would be a good thing, it would be progress" if France admitted this officially.
On Friday sources close to Jospin said he opposed an official probe into the issue, saying such "memory work" should be left to historians.
The political left has been campaigning vigorously for an official recognition of French excesses during the eight-year war similar to the apology given by President Jacques Chirac for the Vichy government's treatment of Jews in World War II.
Earlier this month Jospin responded positively to the proposal, saying that "efforts to uncover the truth ... strengthen our national community by allowing us to learn the lessons of the past" -- GRENOBLE (AFP)
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