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Roma teen fights for life after vigilante attack

Published: 17 Jun 2014 08:28 GMT+02:00

A gruesome vigilante assault on a Roma teenager who is now fighting for his life has shocked France, with President Francois Hollande dubbing the savage beating an "unspeakable and unjustifiable" act.

Accused of robbery, the 16-year-old was dragged into a basement in a town north of Paris Friday, brutally beaten by a dozen residents of a housing estate and left unconscious in a supermarket trolley where he was later discovered.

News of the attack in Pierrefitte-sur-Seine only came to the fore on Monday, sparking widespread condemnation among the public, rights groups and the country's leaders.

In a statement issued by the presidency, Hollande asked "that everything be done to find those responsible for this attack" and Prime Minister Manuel Valls also hit out at the perpetrators of the assault.

SEE ALSO: Roma 'victims of police violence' in France

A gruesome vigilante assault on a Roma teenager who is now fighting for his life has shocked France, with President Francois Hollande dubbing the savage beating an "unspeakable and unjustifiable" act.

Accused of robbery, the 16-year-old was dragged into a basement in a town north of Paris Friday, brutally beaten by a dozen residents of a housing estate and left unconscious in a supermarket trolley where he was later discovered.

News of the attack in Pierrefitte-sur-Seine only came to the fore on Monday, sparking widespread condemnation among the public, rights groups and the country's leaders.

In a statement issued by the presidency, Hollande asked "that everything be done to find those responsible for this attack" and Prime Minister Manuel Valls also hit out at the perpetrators of the assault.

SEE ALSO: Paris cops told to purge Roma from posh area

Roma have long been discriminated against across Europe. They were killed in their hundreds of thousands by the Nazis during World War II, and even now rights organisations have warned of a spike in violence against Roma communities in Europe.

France's SOS Racisme said the attack was the "obvious result of nauseating tensions faced by our fellow citizens."

"We expect a radical change in discourse and an extremely clear denunciation of the violence they are facing," said Benjamin Abtan, head of the European Grassroots Antiracist Movement (EGAM).

An April report by Amnesty International slammed European countries for not doing enough to protect their Roma communities, singling out several nations including France.

Many of France's 20,000 Roma live in extreme poverty in makeshift settlements with little or no access to basic services, such as water, Amnesty said.

The country pursues a controversial policy of forcibly evicting Roma from their camps, often paying them to return to their countries of origin, mainly Romania and Bulgaria.

Last year, French authorities evicted a record 19,380 members of the community from camps.

The issue gained international attention and sparked nationwide student protests in October after authorities took a 15-year-old Roma girl off a bus in front of her classmates during a school trip and deported her along with her family to Kosovo.

Valls, who at the time was interior minister, also came under stinging criticism a month earlier when he said most Roma in France had no intention of integrating and should be sent back to their countries of origin.

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AFP/The Local (joshua.melvin@thelocal.com)

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