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11 policemen suspended over sex abuse allegations in DR Congo

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ABUJA, 27 Sep 2005 (IRIN) - Nigeria has suspended 11 policemen, including a senior officer, suspected of sexual abuse while serving as UN peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Nigeria's police chief, Sunday Ehindero, said the 11 men who were accused of misconduct in a UN probe would face disciplinary hearings.

The remainder of a 120-strong Nigerian police contingent who were serving in Congo have been barred from participating in future peace-keeping operations, Ehindero said.

They are a disgrace to this country and we shall deal with all of them," said Ehindero as the 120 men were paraded before reporters at police headquarters in Abuja on Monday.

There were 19 cases of sexual abuse or misconduct against them, the police chief added. Investigations so far conducted have established corroborated cases against 11 officers, including their commander.

President Olusegun Obasanjo ordered the entire police contingent to return home earlier this month after a UN probe reported their involvement in widespread sexual abuses by members of the peace mission in war-torn Congo.

Police spokesman Haz Iwendi said that the Nigeria police, who currently serve in 19 countries around the world, prides itself on a record of good conduct during peacekeeping operations and will do what is necessary to maintain it.

The UN mission in Congo is the world's largest peacekeeping operation, with some 19,000 staff working to maintain a fragile peace deal.


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