France confirms prisoner was suffocated by French troops

Investigators have confirmed that French troops in Ivory Coast suffocated a prisoner to death and that commanders knew of the killing but did not report it to their superiors, the French Defense Ministry said Wednesday. The prisoner, Firmin Mahe, "was killed by suffocation by French soldiers in an armored vehicle" on May 13, the ministry said in a statement. The command of the French force in Ivory Coast "was informed of the facts but did not make them known" to superiors.

The ministry said three soldiers who were in the armored vehicle as well as one of their officers would be sent before an investigative commission so that "punishments adapted to their responsibilities" can be proposed, the AP reports.

The ministry also imposed an official warning on Gen. Henri Poncet, who commanded France's Licorne peacekeeping force in Ivory Coast at the time of the killing, as well as on Poncet's deputy. Poncet had already been suspended.


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