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Africa

Algerian war torture general Paul Aussaresses dies, aged 95

media Paul Aussaresses in 2011 AFP/Joel Robine

French General Paul Aussaresses, who caused a storm with his admission that torture was widely used during the Algerian War of Independence, has died at the age of 95.

Aussaresses died in a convalescent home and will be buried at his home in La Vancelle, in Alsace, on 10 December, according to his widow, Elvire, whom he married in 2002 following the death of his first wife.

After a long military career, which started in the wartime French resistance, Aussaresses caused a storm with the 2001 publication of a book that said that torture had been "tolerated, if not recommended" during France's unsuccessful war to prevent Algerian independence.

In 1957 General Jacques Massu had charged him with pacifying Algiers and he found himself at the head of what he was to describe as a "death squad", which carried out nocturnal arrests, torture and murders.

He later went to the US to teach the "techniques of the Battle of Algiers" to the Green Beret parachutists for use in the Vietnam War and then to Brazil, where he passed on his skills to police serving the country's military rulers as well as Chile's secret police, Dina.

A court fined Aussaresses 7,500 euros for defending war crimes, following his revelations in Services spéciaux: Algérie 1955-1957 and he was stripped of his Légion d'honneur and forced into retirement.

A prosecution brought by NGOs for torture was dismissed because of an amnesty for actions committed during the Algerian war.

Former Algerian independence fighter Louisette Ighilahriz commented that Aussaresses had been "honest" but "should have expressed his regrets" after the announcement of his death.

Speaking to a journalist in 2000, he seemed to have no regrets.

Asked if practising torture troubled him he replied, "I have to say no. I got used to all that."

Paul Aussaresses - a life in dates

7 November 1918: Born in Saint-Paul-Cap-de-Joux, southern France;
1941: Officer training at St Cyr near Paris and Aix-en-Provence;
1942: Joins French secret service;
1944: Parachuted into occupied France;
1946: Joins elite parachutist regiment;
1947: Named commander of para regiment, sent to Indochina (Vietnam) to fight against independence;
1955: Sent to Algeria to fight against Algerian independence, sets up intelligence unit, his batallion kills 134 and loses two when National Liberation Front (FLN) attacks Philippeville;
1956: In UK to help prepare Suez attack against Egyptian government of Gamal Abdul Nasser but fails to take part in operation due to spinal injury, returns to Algeria;
1957: Transferred to general staff in Algeria on orders of General Jacques Massu, oversees inflitration of FLN, assassinations, torture, covert operations;
1962: Trains US's Green Berets in anti-guerrilla techniques at Fort Bragg, Texas, for use in Vietnam;
1966: Promoted to colonel, joins French section of Nato high command;
1973: French military attaché in military-ruled Brazil;
2001: Declares French troops used torture in Algeria in a book, Services spéciaux : Algérie 1955-1957, president Jacques Chirac calls on him to return his Légion d'honneur and forces him to retire from the army;
2002: Fined 7,500 euros for complicity in defending war crimes;
2008: Claims France paid commission to Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie during an arms sale to Bolivia and assassinated Cameroonian politician Félix Moumié in a new book, Je n'ai pas tout dit. Ultimes révélations au service de la France;
4 December 2013: Dies in a convalescent home in eastern France.

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