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Veil-wearer faces penalty for biting policeman

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10:13 CEST+02:00
An 18-year-old veil-wearing woman faces a penalty for biting a policeman in Marseille during a "mini-riot" that erupted when she was checked for violating France's dress code.

The prosecutor in the case on Thursday demanded a six-month suspended jail sentence for Louise-Marie Suisse, who appeared in court with a traditional Muslim headscarf, although her face was not covered.

In a case that has attracted national attention, Suisse was checked by two police officers for wearing a  full veil over her head near a mosque in the centre of Marseille on the night of July 25, Le Parisien reported.

French legislation outlaws the wearing of veils that cover the face in public places.

However, Suisse refused to remove the veil, stating that she did not respect the laws of the Republic, nor their authority.

A man intervened to support her and soon a group of other people gathered around the officers, forcing them to seek help.

In the melee that ensued, Suisse bit an officer from the anti-criminal brigade (BAC) which sent reinforcements to the scene.

Suisse acknowledged biting the policeman but told the court that she acted in a “panic” when she “couldn’t breathe”.

She said officers shouted at her to take the veil off or risk being taken to the police station.

She said police threw her to the ground and one of them put his hand over her mouth.

A separate administrative investigation has been launched into the behaviour of the police.

A lawyer for the bitten officer, meanwhile, is seeking 2,500 euros in damages and interest.

The court has put off sentencing until September 20. 

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