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France Punishes Officer Who Threatened Togolese Journalist


France has sanctioned one of its officers with 10 days confinement to quarters after he was caught on video threatening a Togolese journalist.

A Defense Ministry spokeswoman, Christine Fages, said Lieutenant Colonel Romuald Letondot is being punished for "threatening the reputation of the French army."

She said he will also be recalled immediately to France from Togo.

A video posted on YouTube shows Letondot, flanked by several Togolese soldiers, aggressively demanding the journalist, Didier Ledoux, to erase photographs.

When Ledoux protests he is only doing his job, Letondot asks him, using an insulting, informal manner of address, "do you know who I am?" and threatens to call the Togolese presidential guard and have the journalist arrested.

Letondot has since apologized to Ledoux at the French Embassy.

Letondot said opposition youths threw stones at his vehicle, and he was photographed telling police who had been involved.

He said he was afraid the photo could be "misinterpreted" as him giving orders to Togolese police, which is beyond France's mandate there.

On Thursday, the French foreign and defense ministries publicly condemned Letondot, saying his vocabulary and attitude were "not compatible" with what is expected of defense personnel.

Togo is a former French colony.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.

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