French authorities say they will seek preliminary murder charges against one of the suspects in the killing of Clément Méric, a 19-year-old student and left-wing activist who died following a fight with a group of skinheads in Paris on Wednesday.
The Paris prosecutor said Saturday he is seeking an investigation for murder against a 20-year-old far-right militant suspected of being involved in the killing of an anti-fascist activist in Paris this week.
Prosecutor François Molins said he would also seek charges of group violence against the suspect, identified only as `Esteban', and three other people allegedly involved in the brawl between far-right skinheads and anti-fascist activists that led to the death of 19-year-old Clément Méric.
A fifth suspect, a woman, faced preliminary charges for complicity in group violence, Molins said.
Clément Méric murder
The fight erupted outside a clothing store where members of the two groups had run into each other by chance on Wednesday, Molins said, citing witness accounts and testimony by the suspects during police questioning.
The prosecutor spoke after French police on Friday confirmed five people had been detained in connection with Méric’s death, while three more suspects were picked up but later released.
According to a police source, several of the suspects are known to have links to far-right groups.
‘Merciless’ crackdown on far-right groups
Earlier Friday French Interior Minister Manuel Valls pledged a "merciless" crackdown on far-right groups in the wake of Méric’s death, an incident that has sent shockwaves across the country.
Experts estimate there could be some 3,000 people in France belonging to some 30 extreme right groups.
When asked if such groups would be dissolved, Valls said on RMC radio: "We will do it without doubt, but it will take a little time, lots of determination."
"Sadly such movements are resurging," he said, citing groups of "racists, anti-Semites and homophobes".
Méric’s death on Thursday, the day after the fight, brought condemnation across the political spectrum and prompted thousands of people out onto the streets in Paris and other major cities in protest.
On Thursday evening, more than 15,000 people took part in marches in honour of Méric in Paris and other cities around the country, including his hometown of Brest, while vigils also took place at Méric's university, the prestigious Sciences Po, in the Latin Quarter of Paris.
(FRANCE 24 with wires)
Date created : 2013-06-08