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3 French ex-soldiers convicted in death by suffocation of Ivory Coast gang suspect

A Paris jury has convicted three ex-French soldiers and acquitted one for murder-related charges in the 2005 suffocation death of a suspected Ivory Coast gang leader, but none of the convicts will serve prison time.

Firmin Mahe died when a plastic trash bag was put over his head in a French armored vehicle. The French were in the African country to prevent clashes between northern rebels and Ivorian troops in the south.

The case has raised questions about alleged confusion about military orders passed down the ranks. A subsequent cover-up shook the French military.

The three convicted were handed suspended sentences. The verdict could have repercussions for France's post-colonial image across Africa, where French troops are still stationed today — including in Ivory Coast — under bilateral or international accords.