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German Soldiers Barred from Congo Mission After Sex Scandal

DW staff (jp)
June 22, 2006

The German defense ministry has said that a group of paratroopers allegedly involved in bizarre sexual practices in the barracks won't participate in the DR Congo mission to safeguard elections there.

Up to 800 Bundeswehr soldiers will be stationed in KinshasaImage: picture-alliance / dpa/dpaweb

The Saarbrücker Zeitung first published allegations of high jinks at the Zweibrücken barracks in the southwestern state of Rhineland-Palatinate.

A spokesman for the German Armed Forces confirmed that new recruits to the 263rd Battalion had indeed been subjected to humiliating initiation rituals at corporals' admissions parties.

The Bundeswehr has launched an internal inquiry into the case focused on "behavioral misconduct," said a spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Christian von Platen. Members of the battalion company who were to have been sent to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) to monitor elections will now be replaced by members of another unit from the same formation.

"None of the soldiers who are in any way involved with these incidents will be going to the Congo," said the spokesman.

Internal inquiry

After first becoming aware of the incidents in mid-June, the Bundeswehr will be looking into at least three cases that are believed to have taken place between 2004 and 2006.

Speaking from the headquarters of the Bundeswehr division for special operations in Regensburg, von Platen said that the obscenity of the initiation rituals clearly "overstepped the line," but stressed that the soldiers had participated willingly and there were no indications of violence or coercion.

Soldaten, Stiefel, Marschieren, Bundeswehr, Rekrut
The Bundeswehr has fielded allegations of bullying beforeImage: AP

According to the newspaper report, freshly minted corporals with the paratrooper squadron had to strip naked and submit to various forms of sexual harassment such as having dried fruit inserted in their backsides and being slapped with paddles.

Von Platen referred to "despicable incidents which cannot be tolerated."

"These practices are shocking and inexcusable," agreed CDU defense spokesman Bernd Siebert. "Soldiers who behave like this undermine the Bundeswehr's reputation and do not belong in the forces."

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