Nearly 2,000 people have been convicted in France over nationwide riots sparked in late June by the fatal police shooting of a teenager during a traffic stop near Paris, the Justice Minister said on Tuesday.
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Eric Dupond-Moretti had called for a “rapid, firm and systematic” response from magistrates to the worst urban violence in the country since 2005, with many courts holding fast-track trials for suspects.
Speaking to RTL radio, Dupond-Moretti said that out of 2,107 people tried, 1,989 had been found guilty and 1,789 had received prison sentences.
4,000 people were arrested during the eight nights of rioting following the death of 17-year-old Nahel during a traffic stop west of Paris.
A video of a police officer shooting the teen at point-blank range went viral.
“I called on magistrates to be firm and they responded,” Dupond-Moretti added. “It was question of restoring law and order.”
The riots were contained only after the deployment of around 45,000 security forces on successive evenings, including elite police special forces and armoured vehicles.
The minister also said that 20 judicial facilities had been vandalised during the four nights of clashes, costing the taxpayer €5 million.
Elsewhere, shopfronts, vehicles, schools and townhalls were attacked, many are waiting to be repaired.
But Nahel’s death revived existing tensions over police brutality and racism in the country.
Earlier this month, a court in Versailles upheld an decision to detain the police officer suspected of fatally shooting Nahel.
The suspect, named as Florian M., a 38-year-old police motorcyclist, is under investigation for voluntary manslaughter over the death.
Death in Marseille
Meanwhile, three French police were charged with “armed violence unintentionally causing death” on 10 August over a 27-year-old man’s death during the rioting in Marseille, in an uncommon instance of officers facing a criminal case over on-duty violence.
An autopsy of the man showed marks on his chest consistent with the impact of a shot from a blast ball commonly used by police, prosecutors said.
The officers remain under judicial supervision. They are banned from having any contact with plaintiffs in the case and from participating in any police contingent concerned with urban riot control or large-scale events.
The investigation is the latest high-profile incident involving Marseille police.
Last month, a 22-year-old man called Hedi had to have part of his skull removed after being beaten up and fired on with a blast ball on 21 July by a group of men suspected to be police officers.
Four Marseille police officers have been charged over that incident.
Three have been released under judicial supervision.The fourth has been remanded in custody for the duration of the investigation.
His detention caused huge controversy within the French police.
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