Ten suspects from the 2007 Villiers-le-Bel riots appeared before a court today, on charges of stone-throwing and ambushing the police. The riots, sparked by the death of two youths, had injured nearly a hundred police officers.
A year and half after riots in Villiers-le-Bel, a suburb north of Paris, ten suspects appear before a court in Pontoise, charged with “wilful violence” and “ambushing police forces and pelting them with stones”.
During two days in 2007, youths and French police engaged in violent battles in the town. The confrontation was sparked by the death of two adolescents who had collided with a police car while riding an unlicensed moped on November 25 of that year.
The riots left nearly a hundred police officers injured by youths using firearms, stones and bottles. A police commissioner was taken to hospital after a beating, and commercial and public facilities including schools and libraries were burnt down.
The ten defendants, charged with stone-throwing, could be sentenced to up to seven years in prison. They were arrested on February 18, 2008, after a huge operation that saw thousands of policemen mobilised on streets.
Five others are under investigation for firing on the police.
The investigation also aims to shed light on the circumstances surrounding the accident between the mini-motorcycle and the police vehicle. An initial report absolved the two policemen present at the scene of any blame. But an expert’s report made public a few months later said that the police vehicle was travelling above the speed limit at the time.
The trial comes at a time when Villiers-le-Bel is experiencing yet another spike in violence. Incidents have multiplied since April, including attacks on police and firemen. Last month, the town began a new local initiative aimed at improving relations between the police and residents.
Date created : 2009-07-02