Amiens police cleared of provoking riots

Police in riot-hit Amiens have been cleared of provoking two nights of unrest that devastated part of the northern French city earlier this month.

Amiens police cleared of provoking riots
Photo: Angelo de Santis (file)

Residents of Amiens' northern quarter have claimed rioting that caused six million euros ($7.5 million) worth of damage and left 17 police officers

injured was triggered by heavy-handed policing of a funeral and wake in the neighbourhood on Sunday August 12.

Police chiefs ordered an internal investigation which has now concluded that the officers involved had acted appropriately and within guidelines.

In particular, the arrest of a man who was driving on the wrong side of the road was "legitimate and necessary," a preliminary report said.The arrest of the man triggered a confrontation between police and dozens of youths who had been at the wake for a 20-year-old who died in a motorcycle accident the previous week.

Police used tear gas to disperse the group of youths that night and more serious clashes followed 24 hours later in which several cars, a local school and a sports centre were badly damaged by fire.

A total of seven people, four of them minors, have been arrested since the rioting, which involved more than 100 youths.

Two of them were last week given suspended prison sentences following fast-track trials on criminal damage charges.

The case of a third man, who faces more serious charges of having incited others to riot, is due to take place on September 12.

Two of the minors have been charged with assaulting police officers.

The unrest in Amiens has helped place crime and security at the top of the political agenda in France.

The new Socialist government has promised to reverse a decline in police numbers with special attention given to marginalised urban areas which have periodically erupted into violence over the last decade.

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Two mountaineers killed and 9 injured in ice fall in Swiss mountains

A Frenchwoman and a Spaniard were killed and nine other mountaineers were injured on Friday in an ice fall in southwest Switzerland, police said following a rescue attempt involving several helicopters.

Two mountaineers killed and 9 injured in ice fall in Swiss mountains

Police received calls at 6.20 am reporting that mountaineers had been caught up in falling seracs — columns of glacial ice formed by crevasses — on the Grand Combin, a glacial massif near the Italian border in the Wallis region.

Seven helicopters with mountain rescue experts flew to the scene, finding 17 mountaineers split among several groups.

“Two people died at the scene of the accident,” Wallis police said in a statement. They were a 40-year-old Frenchwoman and a 65-year-old man from Spain.

Nine mountaineers were airlifted to hospitals in nearby Sion and in Lausanne. Two of them are seriously injured, police said.

Other mountaineers were evacuated by helicopter.

The regional public prosecutor has opened an investigation “to determine the circumstances of this event”, the police said.

The serac fall happened at an altitude of 3,400 metres in the Plateau de Dejeuner section along the Voie du Gardien ascent route.

The Grand Combin massif has three summits above 4,000 metres, the highest of which is the Combin de Grafeneire at 4,314 metres.

The police issued a note of caution about setting off on such high-altitude expeditions.

“When the zero-degree-Celsius isotherm is around 4,000 metres above sea level, it is better to be extra careful or not attempt the route if in doubt,” Wallis police said.

“The golden rule is to find out beforehand from the mountain guides about the chosen route and its current feasibility.”