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France

Alleged police assault on French teen sparks inquiry

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-07-12

France’s internal police watchdog has opened an inquiry into an alleged assault on a 15-year-old boy who says he was brutally beaten by police after he was taken into custody in late May.

France’s internal police watchdog has opened an investigation into an alleged assault on a high school student who says he was “severely beaten” by officers in May.

The 15-year-old boy suffered a broken arm and bruising and was certified unfit to work for a month by medical staff.

He was stopped by police on May 28 because he was smoking a “rolled cigarette” (which may have contained cannabis) outside his school in northeast Paris.

According to several witness reports cited by French media, the victim was threatened with an expandable baton before he was “cuffed, insulted, grabbed violently by the neck and thrown into a police car”. He was then taken into custody where he says he was beaten over a prolonged period by several officers. According to his statement he was punched in the face, kicked in the genitals and had his arm twisted.

'Trouble sleeping'

Following the assault he was admitted to hospital with a broken arm, bruising and strangulation marks.

“This was a case of unrestrained gratuitous violence,” the victim’s lawyer, William Bourdon, told French radio France Info.

The victim’s father told news website StreetPress.fr in an interview that his son was traumatised by the ordeal. “He puts on a brave face in public – he’s 15, that’s normal – but at night he cries and asks, ‘Dad, why me?’”

The victim, whose name cannot be revealed because he is a minor, told the same website that he had trouble sleeping and “often thinks over what happened” but “doesn’t like talking about it.”

The officers involved are accused of “assaulting a minor in a position of public authority”.

French police are notorious for their heavy-handed behaviour towards the public, particularly ethnic groups. The Socialist Party pledged during the 2012 presidential election campaign to crack down on police brutality, but little has changed since President François Hollande came to power last year.

French police were issued with a new code of conduct in March which aims to force them to speak politely to the public.

Date created : 2013-07-12

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