ef. After a four years lawsuit a French court has acknowledged that the death of Henri Friconneau, a gendarme captain, who died in 2015 of a rare angiosarcoma, was caused by depleted uranium (DU), to which he was exposed during his OPEX1 mission in Kosovo. This was reported by the French newspaper “La voix du gendarme” (The voice of the gendarme) on 31 May 2020.
The French magazine Marianne had reported on 1 November 2019: “He [Friconneau) and his colleagues were lodged in barracks of the former Yugoslav army, which still at that time bore the marks of the bomb attacks. In May 2014, the investigating officer […] was hospitalised for persistent pain in his left posterior, against which anti-inflammatory drugs were ineffective. The analyses showed that he was eaten up by a metastatic bone angiosarcoma that affected the liver, lungs and heart. He would die of it a year later.”
His wife, Loret Friconneau, has now been granted the right to add her husband’s name to the list of deserving “Mort pour la France (Died for France)”. She has also been awarded a widow’s pension, which the French Ministry of Defence had previously refused to grant her. In 2000 Henri Friconneau had been stationed in Kosovo for six months and had come into contact with DU contained in the remains of missiles used by NATO against the Serbs in 1999.
Thanks to the counter-inquiries carried out by her lawyer Véronique Rachet-Darfeuille, a French court, after similar lawsuits in Italy, has now confirmed the connection between the use of DU munitions in the NATO bombings and the increased number of cancer cases among both military, and the civilian population.
Lawyer Dr Srdjan Aleksic from the Serbian city of Nis has for years taken cases to court for numerous families who have lost relatives to mostly severe multiple cancers since the war in Yugoslavia in 1999. He is currently preparing lawsuits in all NATO member states that took part in the war of aggression against the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and is already. He has already brought his action before the Serbian judiciary.
For the international lawsuits Aleksic has assembled a team of 26 lawyers and professors from Serbia, Germany, France, Italy, Russia, China, Great Britain and Turkey. Numerous medical doctors are engaged in compiling and analysing the deleterious consequences of DU use. According to the Serbian Ministry of Health, a diagnosis of cancer is being issued for on average one child per day. Overall, the incidence of cancer is now five times higher than before the attack. It stands at around 33,000 cases per year (https://de-de.facebook.com/ratnasteta/). Aleksic held two international conferences in Nis in 2018 and 2019 (see Current Concerns No. 15 from 11 July 2019).
He told the newspaper “Vesti” for the Serbian diaspora on 3 June 2020: “This acknowledgement from France, another Nato country, confirming the Italian ones, is of pivotal importance. It confirms the cause-and-effect relation between these catastrophic diseases and the fired missiles containing depleted uranium. It underpins and strengthens our hope that we will be able to prove the causal link between the 1999 bombing of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the growing spread of cancer in southern Serbia, Kosovo and Metohija. It is therefore a great opportunity for the sick and the families of the deceased to prove this truth and to receive compensation.” According to ‘Vesti’ Aleksic has now submitted 1,500 submissions with medical files to the United Nations Human Rights Committee in Geneva. They are from Serbian citizens who believe that their illness is the result of the NATO bombing: “I explained their cases and requested that the UN send independent investigators to Serbia to deal with the protection of human rights as well as with the environmental protection.” •
1 Opérations extérieures: Time-limited foreign missions of the French armed forces under UN or NATO mandate.
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