A French general who served as top military spokesman in the 1990s was convicted Tuesday of downloading thousands of images of pornography involving children, some as young as six months old, but given an unusally light sentence. The Paris court gave Raymond Germanos a 10-month suspended sentence and ordered him to pay one euro in symbolic damages to three child protection associations who filed suit in his case. "These are unspeakable acts. Some of these images are unbearable," said Judge Marie-Francoise Guidolin. Germanos acknowledged to the court to "consulting" the images, from Web sites with names such as "Lolita" and "Babylove." "I simply want to say that I regret it," he said in his testimony, dressed in a dark suit and white shirt. Germanos made no comment as he walked free after the verdict was read Tuesday night. The 68-year-old Germanos was military spokesman during France's role in the 1990-91 Gulf War and the international operation in Bosnia in the 1990s, among other high-profile activity. He retired from the army as a general in 2002, and went on to work as an adviser to the president of Cameroon. Germanos was accused of possessing some 3,000 images of pornography involving children between six months and 12 years old, from 2004 to 2008, when he was detained. Investigators alerted by Interpol found the images on Germanos' home computer. He testified that he was going through a time of medical difficulties including a brain tumor. His lawyer sought to demonstrate that the tumor could have affected his sense of self-control. Prosecutor Sophie Havard argued that Germanos searched systematically over a period of four years for the porn sites, and took precautions to ensure that his family wouldn't find the images. "The one who hides behind his computer is as guilty" as the one involved in pedophile acts, she said. However, the prosecutor had asked for a suspended sentence, citing Germanos' lack of prior offenses. The prosecutor had also asked that he undergo medical observation for two years and pay euro25,000 in damages to the child protection associations. The court denied that request. Germanos is an officer with France's National Order of Merit and a commander in the French Legion of Honor.
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