Police convicted over deaths that sparked riots

AFP - [email protected]
Police convicted over deaths that sparked riots

France's top appeals court on Wednesday overturned a ruling clearing two police officers of involvement in the deaths of two teenagers in a Paris suburb, the spark for weeks of rioting that drew worldwide attention in 2005.


The ruling was hailed by the families of the victims Zyed Benna, 17, and Bouna Traore,15, who were electrocuted when they climbed into an electricity substation as they tried to escape police chasing them in the Paris of suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois in October 2005.

Last year a lower court had dropped charges against the two officers who had been accused of failing to help to rescue the teenagers, citing lack of evidence.

But on Wednesday, the appeals court overturned that decision, saying that the police officers should have checked if the teenagers were indeed in the substation and, if so, come to their aid.

"It's a great day," said Traore's brother Siyakha. "I am relieved, now things will go ahead. I am waiting for explanations."

Lawyers for the dead youths said the police officers had reason to suspect the two had entered the installation and did not call the emergency services.

"The case will be judged, it will not be snuffed out," said Jean-Pierre Mignard, adding that youths would now be assured "that there is justice in this country.

"We are sure that these two youths were really victims."

Clichy-sous-Bois, like many of France's run-down urban districts, suffers from tension between locals and police.

Radio exchanges between the police revealed one officer saying: "If they enter (the substation) it's very likely they are going to die."


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