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Burkina Faso: Father wants justice in sex abuse case

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso (AP) — The father of a 5-year-old girl who a French prosecutor says was sexually abused by a French soldier has hired a lawyer and vowed on Sunday to follow legal proceedings closely to ensure justice is done.

Allegations against two soldiers were disclosed last week. They were suspended and arrested upon their return to France, though the Paris prosecutors’ spokeswoman said Saturday that one had been released without charges.

It is the second case of alleged sexual abuse of minors by French soldiers in Africa to surface in recent months. French officials have insisted that the Burkina Faso case is unrelated to one in Central African Republic. In that case, officials have come under heavy criticism for not following up quickly on initial allegations.

France has troops in Burkina Faso and nearby countries as part of a large force fighting extremists in the region.

Ben Ouedraogo, the father of the 5-year-old, told The Associated Press on Sunday he disagreed with the decision to repatriate the soldiers, though officials have said this was done in line with agreements between the two countries.

“They told us that this type of case is an affair for the French justice system and that they can’t be judged in Burkina. I find it unacceptable but it doesn’t concern me,” he said.

He said his daughter and a 3-year-old friend were at a swimming pool when the incident occurred, and that one of the soldiers inadvertently left behind a device with footage of the abuse.

The video evidence should be enough to secure a conviction without forcing the victims to testify, Ouedraogo said.

While he has not filed a complaint in Burkina Faso, Ouedraogo said he planned to start a campaign to educate parents on how to protect their children from pedophiles.

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