3 Mar 2010

Trial opens in Tahiti of man accused of sexually abusing 26 children

12:44 pm on 3 March 2010

The trial has opened in French Polynesia of a former military nurse accused of sexually abusing 26 children on Hao atoll in the 1990s.

The man, Philippe Challand, was arrested four years ago in France after his son-in-law found a video cassette showing Mr Challand abusing boys and girls appearing to be asleep.

During the investigation, he reportedly admitted to 41 rapes between 1993 and 1998 on Hao, which was a key military base for the French nuclear weapons testing programme.

Mr Challand worked as an anesthetic nurse and had access to medication to subdue the children.

At the time, the victims were between five and 17 years old.

If found guilty, he faces up to 20 years in jail.