A French appeals court has ruled that a judge may continue his investigation into the killing of 10 French soldiers in Afghanistan, in 2008, Agence France Presse reported.
Judge Frederic Digne will investigate whether France’s military is to blame for not ensuring the safety of the troops, who died in a Taliban ambush in the Uzbin Valley.
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The Associated Press described the incident as the “bloodiest” since the French forces joined the US-led operation in Afghanistan, and an investigation was repeatedly delayed.
In a civil complaint, the soldiers' families accused the military commanders of negligence, saying the troops were placed in unnecessary danger.
French media reports, citing sources within NATO, said the soldiers lacked proper ammunition and communication equipment.
Monday’s ruling comes after prosecutors appealed against the investigation last year.
Gilbert Collard, a lawyer for the family of one of the dead soldiers, described the decision as a “relief,” saying the French state had tried to keep the case closed. He told AFP:
"We had to fight, but we will finally know how these young soldiers were killed, how they were sacrificed."
The head of the French armed forces, Edouard Guillaud warned against allowing the courts to rule on matters of war and the military, the AP reported.
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He argued that military chiefs needed to be free in their decision-making when it comes to “risk inherent to the military career.”
The court ruling comes shortly after French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced an early withdrawal of French troops in Afghanistan, following the killing of four unarmed French troops by an Afghan soldier on January 20.